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review 2017-10-29 21:35
Glass Houses - Louise Penny

Wow, how in the heck have I come this far in my life and never read Louise Penny before? I've known for a while that she has quite the following. And now, . . . I know why. Good Grief this was a great read for me.

I spent three quarters of this book immersed in a trial without even knowing who the defendant was, or even if they were female or male. The story went from present to back history to a little further back history, then like six months before and then back to the trial, then like a month before. I mean it was jumping all over the place. And I absolutely loved the characters in Three Pines. Especially the VERY quirky ones. Ha!! 

Even though this was number 13 in the series of Armand Gamache, I still felt like I hadn't missed anything. I mean in the sense that I know there were other things that happened prior to this book, but I didn't feel as though I missed out on anything!!!

I know I am preaching to the choir when I say that I was so mesmerized by this book. It did go back and forth a lot, and being an advanced reader, it was hard to keep up as I had to stop for a few seconds and wonder where I was but that did not deter me, AT ALL!!!!!!

If you have not read Louise Penny, don't take as long as I did to figure out that it's an excellent read.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book, laughed quite a few times and was definitely shedding some tears at the end. I grew to love these characters and really miss them now that I've left Three Pines.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2017-10-29 19:18
Gamache is a favorite character of mine. He never fails me.
Glass Houses - Louise Penny

Glass Houses, Louise Penny, author; Robert Bathurst, narrator. When the book opens, Armand Gamache, the man who is in charge of the Sûreté du Quebec, is giving testimony at a murder trial. He begins to explain about the suspicious “thing” that was dressed in a hooded black robe that had suddenly appeared on the village green and barely moved; it simply seemed to be watching. In a short time, it frayed the nerves of the townspeople. It was something called a cobrador, an ancient figure that collected debts, acted as a conscience, and haunted the subjects it came for until they paid in some way for their misdeeds. The government attorney and Gamache did not seem to be on the same page, during this questioning, although they were on the same side, presumably. In this story, in his persona as Chief Superintendent, Gamache has discovered a major pattern in the drug trafficking industry, and he is willing to risk all to expose and capture the criminals to stop their activity. Drugs are causing the massacre of generations of people across the human spectrum. He created a subterfuge, using the murder trial as a tool, which some may question since it will ultimately have dangerous consequences. The reader will be left to decide whether or not the rule book should occasionally be tossed out, or whether it should always be followed in times of crisis. Also, the reader will have to think about whether or not someone should be punished if they break a rule for a good reason. Penny has created a character in Gamache that is beloved by her readers. He is gentle, but strong and firm, as well. He is moral, but he is flexible in his thinking. He does not rush to judgment and always seems to err on the side of goodness, even when he is doing something bad. Reine-Marie, his wife, is understanding, warm and friendly. The town where they live, Three Pines, might be everyone’s ideal location with its odd collection of people who are writers, chefs, artists, and more. They come from all different places, different backgrounds and have different needs. They all have some “ghost in their closet”, some secret that they wish to conceal, something in their lives that had caused them shame; they all wondered if the “thing” in the robes had come for them, as “the thing” made them remember their own past sins and guilt. Should people in glass houses throw stones? The opiod crisis facing all of us today was a major theme alongside the murder investigation. Many of the characters had personal experience with the tragedy of the drug epidemic and it brought home the depth and breadth of its reach into our own reality. I wondered if the fear of the black robed creature that could possibly incite people to act out violently, could be likened to the sometimes irrational fear many have of women in burqas, along with a generalized fear of Muslims because of what the mind conjures up with thoughts of terrorism. These are just some ideas which occurred to me while reading. I am not sure if the author writes with this remarkably soft touch that conveys deeper messages, as she presents her narrative, or if this very talented narrator interprets the words that way. Regardless, though, it works well. Also, the gentle wit of her prose will sometimes cause the reader to smile quietly, and her text will make the reader think about and investigate her ideas even after the book ends. The devastating effect of opiods and the history and existence of the cobrador will make for interesting future study. The books create a manageable tension while the problems mount and solutions seem to slip away, as moving back and forth, in the memory of Gamache on the witness stand, the novel develops. The familiar cast of sometimes outrageous characters, in the Inspector Gamache series, will bring the reader back again and again as each new book in the series is written. The narrator, Robert Bathurst perfectly captures the nuances of each of them and will also inspire readers to return.

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review 2017-10-16 16:44
Confusing Book That Has Way Too Many POVs and a Sub-par Ending
77 Shadow Street (with bonus novella The Moonlit Mind) - Dean Koontz

I don't even know what to say. I was tempted to DNF but I really wanted something to get crossed off of my second bingo card so struggled through to the end with this one.

 

I don't know guys, I think that Koontz has flashes of brilliance in his books, but his later stuff is just him preaching via his characters about whatever he currently has a bug about. This one is just about how advances in technology can lead to the world being wiped out via our scientific advances.

 

I will say the initial part of the book (the horrific events that occurred at a Gilded Age home over the years) was great. When Koontz got into the characters and dialogue it just fell apart. What's wrong with just writing a straight haunted house mystery? I don't know why Koontz went from that to what this turned into.

 

"77 Shadow Street" follows a former home eventually turned into condos that every 37 or maybe it was 38 years an event occurs there that leaves all of the inhabitants dead. Now it's about to go through its cycle again. Now called the Pendleton, it is a home for it seems fairly well off people. 

 

I don't know what to say about the characters. We have a former Marine (of course we do) who is now an investment banker of some sort. Two elderly rich sisters leaving together, a former U.S. Senator, a country music writer and her son, and a woman and her autistic daughter. There is also a retired lawyer, a scientist, and shoot I know I am blanking on at least 4 more people here, but I can't even recall people's names at this point.


I can't even point to a favorite character since we spend so little time with everyone. You maybe get a paragraph or two before Koontz blithely skips to the next character. We also get an info dump via the retired attorney about the history of the Pendleton. I really hate info dumps and this one made no sense to me since who moves into a place where it seems murders keeps happening? 

 

If Koontz could have limited himself to a first person POV and just had that character introduce us to the other characters it could have worked. When I started reading the one kid's point of view I was just over everything. It doesn't help that we get some bad science via characters too when the happenings at the Pendleton start getting explained. 


Readers quickly find out though that Shadow Street is not what it seems. It appears to also connect to a man calling himself "Witness" and a narrator calling themselves "The One." It takes a while for all of this to sync up so you can figure out what is going on. However, the reveal to me was disappointing.  

 

The flow started off okay and than just got increasingly worse. The writing was atrocious (dialogue wise) too. I just kept going to myself, who the heck talks like this while I was reading. Everyone sounded like a bad fortune cookie. At one point I thought I was reading an Odd Thomas book since everyone in this book managed to sound like that character at one point or the other. 

 

The setting of the Pendleton at first was creepy. But when things got explained I found myself in disbelief about how this all got explained. It was overly explained and I called BS on what actions one of the characters did. I think it would have caused some paradox consequences, but I really didn't care at that point cause at least I had finished this book. 

 

FYI, I skipped reading the novella included since it was a prequel of "77 Shadow Street" called "The Moonlit Mind" and honestly should have maybe been put up front before you get into the longer book. Either way, I was glad to be done and refused to read that. This book ended around the 75 percent mark because of my skipping that read. 

 

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text 2017-10-15 19:17
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
77 Shadow Street (with bonus novella The Moonlit Mind) - Dean Koontz

There were a couple of good ideas here before Koontz ruined it. Way too many characters, once again with his constant refrain on how evil science is, a golden retriever pops up in the end. I do wish that Koontz had his characters speak like real human beings again. Seriously, most of the time I kept thinking was reading an Odd Thomas book.

 

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text 2017-10-14 02:28
Reading progress update: I've read 9%.
77 Shadow Street (with bonus novella The Moonlit Mind) - Dean Koontz

Since becoming a professional, Mickey never killed a man for free. It was unnatural. Like Picasso giving away a painting. An important part of the sensual experience of murder was counting the money afterward.

 

One day I'll go back and count the number of professional killers Koontz had in his novels.

 

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