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review 2018-07-10 18:35
Just Skip This
One Door Away from Heaven - Dean Koontz

This book is a freaking door stopper. I read this the first time on a very long flight and since my other books were packed in my luggage I plugged on through this. I think maybe I went hard shrug about it all and said well that's just three stars. Reading it now years later I have no idea how I muddled through this the first time. This book is peak sanctimony Koontz. There's a damn dog and then even more dogs. Koontz does that weird thing he did for a while where he had people with disabilities either physical or mental into super special people which felt wrong in a way. I don't know if you can call it pandering or what, it just felt off and not sincere. There are like four plots in this one (if you can call them that) and a question again about religion versus science, but with no real horror elements.


"One Door Away from Heaven" is about Michelina (Micky) Bellsong a woman with a mysterious past who does what she can to save a young girl she meets. Seriously though, why do most of Koontz's characters have a mysterious past? It takes a while to figure out what happened to Micky, but one can hazard a guess. There is not much there there with Micky. Sorry, not sorry. The other characters read as paper thin too. Micky meets a young girl named Leilani who tells her her life story and at least something comes across to Micky, that the young girl is going to be killed by her stepfather. Micky has a drinking problem, but is still beautiful (I think that is said repeatedly). When she realizes that Leilani is really in danger, she does what she can by following her to keep her safe.


Leilani is a 9 year old precocious child who talks like Einstein. She has a physical disability, but shines (according to another character). I can't even with that since it started to make me think of "The Shining" and Stephen King. I think I have said this before, Koontz cannot write children. He writes them as little Buddhas and it's old. I give King some grief when he writes something that is not 100 percent amazing (still feeling salty about 11/22/63) but the man can and always has been able to write kids.


We also have a PI named Noah who is out to help Micky with her tracking down Leilani.


There is a mysterious boy named Curtis who I hope you like reading him talking about a playful presence a lot. He sucks and I cannot with him. The reveal about Curtis wasn't much of a reveal since I was going for he is really an android for most of the book.


The bad guy seems like he should be going around screeching about cooties most of the time. Preston Maddoc is a scientist (EVIL) who is very popular in the scientific world pushing out his belief in bioethics. He believes in aliens (which don't even get me started) and that those who are not perfect should be murdered. Too bad he is Leilani's stepfather. I think Koontz could have gone at this more subtle. If Koontz wanted to have a real discussion about bioethics as it relates to the poor and people who are not white, have at it. But he turned this into all bioethics is evil/wrong.


There are other characters in this one that I cannot even get into right now. One was Micky's aunt Geneva that also made me roll my eyes. For most of the book everyone doesn't meet up and then Koontz throws them all together in a way that doesn't even make any sense.


The writing didn't work. I think because for some reason Koontz wrote some characters in past tense and others in present tense. It was hard work to even get through this because that drove me up the freaking wall. This one also reminded me a bit about "Intensity" which had another woman who put herself in harm's way to save a young girl.


The flow was awful and every time someone spoke it took like ten pages to make it end. Suffice it to say that the book is just about apparently people spreading the word and there are aliens. That's all I got.


And the book ends with people talking about a riddle and here is the answer which was too much even for me.


"If your heart is closed, then you will find behind that door nothing to light your way. But if your heart is open, you will find behind that door people who, like you, are searching, and you will find the right door together with them. None of us can ever save himself; we are the instruments of one another's salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light."


"For those who despair that their lives are without meaning and without purpose, for those who dwell in a loneliness so terrible that it has withered their hearts, for those who hate because they have no recognition of the destiny they share with all humanity, for those who would squander their lives in self-pity and in self-destruction because they have lost the saving wisdom with which they were born, for all these and many more, hope waits in the dreams of a dog, where the sacred nature of life may be clearly experienced without the all but blinding filter of human need, desire, greed, envy, and endless fear.


And here, in dream woods and fields, along the shores of dream seas, with a profound awareness of the playful Presence abiding in all things, Curtis is able to prove to Leilani what she has thus far only dared to hope is true: that although her mother never loved her, there is One who always has."

My eyes finally stopped rolling. That whole thing went on forever. I don't think that Koontz gets how preachy his books come across and how off-putting it is to read some of his works. I think this was Koontz's way of flipping off his critics cause he manages to tie dogs into being connected to God even more in this one that just made me shake my head.

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photo 2015-04-17 04:18

New (used) book purchases. I already had these books, but not with these covers. Yay thrift shops! 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-01-27 20:22
One Door Away From Heaven
One Door Away from Heaven - Dean Koontz

The Main Characters and Synopsis


Micky Bellsong is looking for a future that doesn't consist of only her good looks. She wants a life of substance and purpose. She wants to believe in herself like her Aunt Geneva believes in her...but she is stuck in her painful past. She finds her purpose in a little girl named Leilani Klump.


Leilani, an intelligent and endearing nine year old is counting down the days until she is killed by her serial killer step-father or until she escapes, whichever comes first.


Then there is a little alien boy named Curtis, that is on the run from alien hunters and the government--with a Border Collie friend he has picked up on the way. He wants to help heal the world before he leaves the Earth.


A private investigator named Noah works to take care of a sister that as a young man he failed to protect from his more-than dysfunctional family. He's looking for redemption...


Somehow, Dean Koontz brings them all together in an incredible story that I couldn't put down.


Koontz makes reference later that he designed this book to bring light to something called Utilitarian Bioethics with which he wholeheartedly and passionately disagrees with. He says this inhumane practice seeks to harm the disabled, frail and the elderly. So, that is the underlying theme here.




I picked this book up because one of the prompts for a reading challenge was to find a book with the word "one" in it. This particular book captured me because a review said it was about shape-shifters and aliens so I thought it might be up my alley.


I really liked it and will probably read Koontz in the future. For one, he has the easy 'I was meant to do this' writing style that Stephen King has, and you can see how he made mass market paperback status (as I call it).


The characters are incredibly likeable and diverse. The serial killer in this story is not likeable but his part is written very well and you love to hate him (that's the point and it works).


I loved loved the two kids in this book. They were endearing and the stuff they said made me smile and broke my heart numerous times and sometimes all at once.


I also liked how the book is action packed and constantly moving. For a 600 something page book, it didn't seem lengthy at all and my eyes didn't glaze over from irrelevant points and words . I wanted to pick it up to read again.


For this type of book, I thought there were lots of thoughtful quotes strung throughout ( that I wish I had highlighted or made note of so I could share them here)




I have only one negative....While I'm glad it ended the way it did, I was disappointed with the ending. It felt that the ending was just thrown together quickly because there were so many pages already or perhaps he wasn't sure exactly how to end it. It lacked the meaning and oomph I had expected--it felt like the characters were not present and that at the end Koontz just wanted to make his case ( when the characters were already making that case and would have done that naturally for him.)


Ok, so that's all I have to say. The end.






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review 2014-01-25 00:00
Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World
Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World - Lisa Randall Maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but I could not tell from the title, subtitle, or jacket that this is primarily a book about the Large Hadron Collider. It's a very good book about the LHC. And probably I would have read it sooner if I had realized that -- it just looked like another general "science is great" book that happened to be overhyped, and I took my sweet time in getting to it.

My guess is that this was a book she had in preparation for quite a while waiting for the discovery of the Higgs, but as full operations at the LHC got postponed, she added a few chapters to the beginning and end of the book to widen the scope and sent it to the printer. That's not such a bad thing. It just feels like the marketing was a little off.

The more general chapters at the end about cosmology are her wheelhouse. They're quite good. The general chapters at the beginning were not so good -- I nearly lost my motivation to read the book. The description of the standard model and the Higgs mechanism are okay but have been done better in other popular science books (my favorite description of the Higgs is Sean Carroll's). But the real gem in the heart of this book is the detailed description of the LHC itself, as well at the ATLAS and CMS detectors, the two main general purpose particle detectors at the LHC. I read a lot of popular science books, and I'm always looking for something that young students of physics (like my undergrads) would benefit from and enjoy. That chapter is going on my list of highly recommended reading. One of the best experimental descriptions I've read -- and yes, it's from a theorist. Fantastic.

So, like any 400+ page science book, there were some great moments and some sections I could have done without. Overall, though, I'd recommend the book.
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review 2013-11-15 18:00
Super Hyped
Doctor Sleep - Stephen King
Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft - Joe Hill,Gabriel Rodríguez
Rose Madder - Stephen King
One Door Away from Heaven - Dean Koontz
The Stand - Stephen King
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft - Stephen King
A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones / A Clash of Kings / A Storm of Swords / A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin
The Shining - Stephen King

"Do I really have any other choice?"


Rose shrugged.  "Only bad ones, dear.  But it's better if you want it.  It will make the Turning easier."


"Does it hurt? The Turning?"


Rose smiled and told the first outright lie.  "Not at all."




Doctor Sleep - published a very short while ago, making it one of the newest works that I've read in a long time.


How did I manage to read it - borrowed from work; figured that I do a bit of "extra credit" by figuring out if this was worth recommending to hapless customers.


I've already talked about the price consideration, when it comes to this book, but as promised, I will talk, now, about the obviously more important aspects of quality, in terms of this book.


I mean, if you're like me and you cringe at the $30 price, it is still possible to borrow from the library or get second hand, sometime down the road, so the REAL question is this - is it worth your time?




The  good news is that if I ever imagined Danny as an adult, this book manages to defy anything that I thought that he would be doing.  In fact, I think that Stephen had the right idea, in making an entire third of the book about Danny - let's just say that I believe that Stephen had his heart in the right place while he was writing the first draft.  This is a Danny-centric story, and he gets that right - at times.


I also enjoy, as I almost inevitably always do, the ease and familiarity that his prose is.  You won't likely be digging through paragraphs with a spoon, looking for deeper meaning or the meaning in general - unlike some... OTHER authors who I won't name.   it's a quick read - good for a long ride somewhere, especially if you're a die hard King fan and want a little bit of suspense and some action.


Its other star, a young girl named Abra (can I just say, for the record, that I love her name?  Because I do.)  manages to not be one of those child character that consantly makes you grind your teeth, wishing that you could give them their medicine.  After having read all of the Locke & Keys that King's son has written - which were written with simply the most MARVELOUS children characters that I have ever read, anywhere - I can see where Hill built off of the knowledge that his father gave him on writing characters.   I also love how downright savage she can be, when pissed off - reminding me of the protagonist of Rose Madder on more than one occasion.  Every time that she sheds the innocent little girl facade and shows her downright monstrous side, I felt a little titter of glee, and got the feeling that somewhere, somehow, an avid Jane Austen fan just got a sinking sense of unease.


Without going too far into the opposition that Danny faces in the book - I love the concept of it.  It is just one of those things that King is so famously imaginative to think of, and when it comes to that part of the writing, I feel as though King exercises that "less is more" mantra that is a similarity between all of his best stories, especially regarding that part of the background and the exposition regarding it.  If we're reading a part regarding Danny's opposition, then we're reading a part of the story that is wonderfully grotesque and moving rapidly.


I love the community that these people have built up, and in many instances, I can say that I actually grew to care more about the opposition than the "good" guys.  Which leads me into some other issues...


Now, here's the problem -


I can't kid myself - this is not a good book by any standard by which King's best works are judged.  It's not particularly compelling (sorry), because the stakes are simply just not believably high enough for my liking, I find any characters that Danny teams up with to be dull, boring people that make me feel as though I am reading the equivalent of the adult performances in the made-for-tv miniseries of IT and, I frankly felt that I was reliving a less hammer-it-into-your-head Christian proselytizing version of one of my most hated books - Dean Koontz's One Fucking Doorway from Goddamned Heaven.  


King, I've almost always gone up to bat for you - with the exception of The Stand, I regard you as sort of my mentor for the foundation of my skills as a writer.  On Writing quite literally saved my life when I was so very depressed that I saw no way out of my self hatred than by doing something potentially drastic.  Your memoir/guide book on being a writer taught me that I could write from my heart, that horror is, truly, the most noble and truthful genre of writing, the closest to the truth of humanity, be it good or evil, and taught me how to take to writing in an instinctive manner, writing my first drafts as though allowing the story to take over my body during the first draft, then worrying about everything else in the re-write stages. 


That's why it hurts to be THAT person right now - but truthfully, after having read this, I feel awful for mistakenly recommending this to customers at the bookstore where I work.  This is missing very crucial ingredients in what is present in your best, your most revelationary, work.   It feels like a sad caricature of what you've proved that you're capable of, multiple times in the past - it's a tin man without a heart or a hope.


Where Koontz in One Doorway Away from Heaven bizarrely throws his own feces at what he considers to be Utilitarianism and praising God, so much so that I thought that I had mistakenly found the only known novel to be written by Jack Chick, you rail against substance abuse and praise the widely-known broken system known as AA.  Not only is it uncomfortable for someone who knows that that system just doesn't work and that it is archaic and needlessly religious where it should be welcoming of all philosophies regarding mortality or the idea of the afterlife, but the worst offense of all is that it doesn't fit.   The story would have been shorter - better - and a good deal more focused without King swearing by the broken magic of AA.


King, what were you THINKING?  I would ask myself that, if King did not make it ABUNDANTLY clear where his intentions were in the afterword of the book itself.  This is not Danny's story, but rather, a love story to the wonders of AA, with a supernatural sub plot tossed in.    This is King's view of AA - and showing what could have happened to Jack Torrance, if ONLY he had turned himself over to God and learned to loathe himself for his own failings.  


Make no mistake about it - Danny has almost NO discernible character traits that differentiate him a good deal from his father.   On many levels he is a hopeless man who is ENSLAVED by alcohol - oh, and he happens to now have less power that he did when he was a kid.  Tell why, WHY am I supposed to are about adult Danny, who seems to me to be a shadow of the interesting personality that he exhibited as a child?


The ending also feels horribly unsatisfying - I only briefly felt as though the main characters were in a situation that they would have to struggle desperately to get out of, and when the ending came up. I had to shake my head at the way that King ended it.


And as for Abra - I have always said that King writes women better than many women writers I know of, but this girl oftentimes felt like a character written by an older man.  The references to other real-world fiction almost broke this character in half, for me - in particular, Abra imagining Daenerys from A Song of Ice and Fire did two things - first, it made me facepalm, hard, and two, it made me wonder why I am not finishing book four in that series instead of finishing THIS book.


On a last note - King, Kubrick is dead.  Even though he is dead, he was a true artist that many would argue made an aesthetic imprint on the world of cinema that beats any lasting influence that you would make in the long run like a squalling child.  I am certainly not one of those people, but I do hate it that you chose to end the book on a smug note that managed to both insult the intellect of the audience you most certainly share with that dead genius, while also rubbing a dead man's nose into the fact that you will ALWAYS reject his re-visioning of The Shining.  


King, two things - one, the movie version YOU put your stamp of approval on (and made for TV, no less!) is one of the most laughable pieces of shit that I have ever laid eyes on.  It is a stiff caricature of what you wanted, it is uninspired, the acting and the effects are COMPLETE GARBAGE, and, oh, did I mention that once you see Kubrick's The Shining, there's no way that you could ever look at that pile of shit and not burst out laughing?


Two - Even though it shouldn't NEED to be said, Kubrick's film is a horror masterpiece, with the acting being superb, containing within it possibly Jack Nicholson's most deservedly remembered role as Jack Torrance, and certainly Shelly Duvall's most remembered, the effects still standing up decades later and the wonderfully crafted imagery and symbolism still capable of scaring people anew today and, oh, still managing, arguably, to contain some of the most clever subliminal massages ever conceived, nestled within so many frames of the movie that it staggers the mind?   (In case you haven't, rent - don't buy - the documentary Room 237, a documentary with brief moments of startling intelligence sprinkled amongst the batshit crazy, the best parts, arguably, being the concept of Kubrick creating the subliminal effect of thinking of horrific atrocities committed by humans).


You never gave that movie your precious stamp of approval, but it's played at film festivals and beloved by people the world over.


Do you know what you put your stamp of approval on?


The Langoliers.



LOOK AT IT.  Rice krispies, indeed, Mr. King.


But here's the fun part: in Kubrick's film, he crushed what was then your car into a semi, in his film.



I think that, because he's dead and can't defend himself, this should stand as the ultimate fuck-you to King's nonending whining and jabbing. 


Kubrick totaled your car.


As a die-hard King fan. writing this review hurt waaay more than it would have, if I had been breaking some other author apart, but if the emperor needs to be told that he is not wearing any clothes - isn't it better if the news comes from a friend?

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