Mark Cornelison’s Undressed: Taking Everything Off and Putting On What Matters Most

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Cornelison for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Mr. Cornelison, one half of the Cornelison team on Season 13 of ‘The Biggest Loser,’ wishes to show us how Go used a reality show to change his life. So basically, it’s a memoir.

Story Telling: Remember what I said about the overuse of italics in the last book? This one was loaded with them. Needless to say, it was a slow read.

Likes: There were nice summarizing points at the end of each chapter.

Dislikes: I didn’t care for all of the italics. There must be a better way for emphasis. Nor did I care for the Christian vie of weight gain. Please tell me where in the Bible God says “Thou shalt not be fat.” Or, even better, which Biblical group had a problem with Jesus being a glutton?

Favorite Scene: I like how Mr. Cornelison spent the time with his son.

Conclusion: You’ll probably like this one if you liked ‘The Biggest Loser.’ Personally, I never have watched the show, nor do I wish to start, but to each his own.

Richard P. Flynn’s Irishmen Don’t Cry A Medical and Emotional Journey with ALS

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Flynn for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Mr. Flynn wants to let us in on a little secret. What’s the secret you ask? It’s that with the help of your family and the right frame of mind, you can live with anything and keep a positive attitude. It isn’t all talk either. Mr. Flynn has ALS. And he seems pretty happy.

Story Telling: This is a different way to write a memoir. The format is more like a scrapbook-styled journal.

Likes: I like the optimism Mr. Flynn lives with. Life can’t be too inspiring in his position. Yet, as long as he can enjoy skiing then he is happy.

Dislikes: I read with a reading partner. The additional information–those pieces given by his doctors, his wife Nancy, and his aide Carolyn–are all written in italics. These are rather large chunks that hurt the eyes. Perhaps it’s just a formatting issue.

Favorite Scene: My favorite story of Mr. Flynn’s involves his college days and the mooner. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Conclusion: This can help put your life in perspective. Though it can e hard reading. Hard in the terms that it can be difficult to keep happy while hearing what is happening to someone else. Pick a happy day to read this one.

My Obligations as a Writer and a Reader

I subscribe to the Writing-World.com newsletter. In the September 18, 2014 edition, there’s an interesting article on the obligations between authors and their readers by Ms. Victoria Grossack. She made many points that I agree with, and it got me thinking about what my obligations are.

As a writer, I see my obligations in a rather simple light. For starters, I see that writers put something of themselves into everything that they put out. The books are a reflection of the authors. As such, you will not find much vulgarity or cursing, in my novels, short stories, or any of my articles. In my day-to-day life, I don’t speak like that. In the same vein, you won’t find any derision aimed toward God, or any person, nor will you find an obsession with sex in my work.

Another thing I owe my readers is that my work is written and polished to the very best of my ability. It is unfair to both me and you for me to do anything less. Not only should my writing be polished, but my story telling skills shouldn’t leave any gaping plot holes.

My final obligation as a writer is that I must never attack a reader or reviewer that does not like my work. Not everyone will like my style, but this is not the fault of the reader or the writer.

Those are my three points that I follow as a writer. Now for what I see as my obligations as a reader and reviewer.

If you are a long time follower of this blog, you already know my first obligation is to offer fair and honest reviews. I see this as necessary to both the author of said book, and the would be readers who might use my review to help them come to a decision beneficial to them.

I believe that my reviews are a great place to use those manners that most of us were taught as children. Respect is key here. I respect the authors for their work, and all I ask is that they respect me as a reader of their work.

My final obligation is that somehow I pay for the books that I read. Be it with a review for the Advanced Reader Copies, or out of pocket for those that I purchase. There should be a fair exchange between the author and reader. The only time I go for a free book out of these situations, is if I’m looking for public domain books.

The way I see it, I don’t ask for much. My demands on myself are a bit stricter that yours maybe, but it keeps me true to myself.

Deborah Smith Parker’s The Horse That Haunts My Heart

I received this book courtesy of Mrs. Parker for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Mrs. Parker has invited us along for a trip down her memories to the three summers that she spent with Tank, the horse she rode at a working ranch camp.

Story Telling: This memoir was simplistic in style, and made for easier reading than some of the serious stuff should allow. It’s a good one afternoon read.

Likes: I’m a bit horse crazy myself. Spending time at the camp was kind of fun. Tank sounds like he would’ve been a blast to be around.

Dislikes: My major problem with this memoir had to do with the allegations of Sam’s molestations of some of the other campers. My problem is that this book was written over fifty years after the fact. Sam is unable to defend himself against this accusations, and, as Mrs. Parker herself has admitted, she wasn’t a victim, just a shoulder to cry on. She could have said simply that she and Sam had a falling out.

Favorite Scene: My favorite part was when Take made a path through the bramble rather than risk the girls’ lives that were with him.

Conclusion: This book was great. Just the sexual component, as well as some of the New Age beliefs make it so that this is a book that young girls shouldn’t read without parental guidance, they’ll need it.

Dean Koontz’s Brother Odd-Odd Thomas 3

Overview: It’s been seven months since Odd has moved to the monastery in the Sierras. St. Bartholomew’s seems like the perfect spot to hide from the lingering dead, if it wasn’t for Brother Constantine. A ghost of one presumed suicide, and now the bodachs are hovering over the innocents in the hospice care for disabled children. What’s a guy to do?

Story Telling: This book didn’t make much sense to me. Perhaps it is just all of the monastery life, but I felt like a true outsider. Odd is still Odd. He’s still not going to shoot someone if he can avoid it. There weren’t many ghost scenes this time around. Even Elvis seemed to be absent, mostly.

Likes: For the most part it was the care the Sisters showed the children that really drew me in. Odd really ought to take the example of Brother Knuckles to heart. He doesn’t wish to harm anyone, but God help you if you threaten one of his charges.

Dislikes: The monastic life was hard for me to follow. Nor do I think that Odd necessarily had to leave his comfort zone. Let’s face it, he had more than enough trouble in Pico Mundo. Speaking of Pico Mundo, why couldn’t Oddie have spent Christmas with his loved ones?

Favorite Scene: My favorite part was when Elvis was playing in the snow with Boo.

Conclusion: I think I liked Odd’s hometown more than I do him. This book wasn’t as good as the others in my opinion. Think I just might skip ahead to “Saint Odd,” and back to Pico Mundo.

Harry James Krebs’s Vengeance is Mine-Benjamin Tucker Mysteries 1

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Krebs for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Say hello to Mr. Benjamin Tucker, a former investigative reporter turned true-crime author. While trying to finish his first fictional mystery, a killer–known as the Headless Corpse Killer to the press, Jack Plum to law enforcement–starts dredging up memories of his first love/tragedy. He’s doing a great job helping out as a researcher, until Jack starts moving closer to home.

Story Telling: Mr. Krebs told, or wrote, a pretty strong story. While the serial killer was pretty blood-thirsty, we didn’t spend much time with the visual descriptions of the crimes. If it seems to be getting rather tense, then rest assured that Ben will stick his foot in his mouth. A couple of times, it was both feet, and they went pretty far down. The characters were likeable, and you were left rooting for the heroes.

Likes: I liked Roberta, but not for the humorous situations she was involved in. I thought she showed great care and love for her family that she works for. Nora was a cool old woman, even going so far as to be ready to defend her granddaughters at a moment’s notice. And a lucky one, she definitely followed the spirit. Plus the fact that most of the conversations were light-hearted made this one a comfortable read.

Dislikes: There seemed to be quite a few unanswered questions at the end. Where did Ben come from? Who killed Christine? These questions must be for later books. Patty was another problem for me. Someone should tell her that it takes two to tango. And might I advise Mr. Tucker to not share drinks with those ladies that are in an emotional maelstrom. It just seems to precipitate trouble.

Favorite Scene: My favorite part had to be how Ben got his briefcase. I can just imagine the looks on the group’s faces at that time.

Conclusion: I had fun reading this book. Here’s hoping Ben finally finds out what happened to Christine. But I must admit to feeling sorry for poor Oscar. Boys don’t need nail polish.

Lawrence W. Gold’s Never Too Late

I received this book courtesy of Dr. Gold for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Isabel “Izzy” Kramer is sure she’s lost her mind when she agrees to run the Bay to Breakers race with her daughter Jennifer. But she gets a “runner’s high” after the race, and sets her sights higher, all the way to the Boston Marathon. With the help of her trainer Mitch, and her running mate Hunter, she’s out to prove that even in your sixties it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

Story Telling: Dr. Gold has some pretty strong characters here. Of course I’d be questioning my sanity if I had so many psychiatrists in my family. You have Izzy, Ross Cohen, and Izzy’s brother Rick. Hunter was written to where you’ll be torn between despising her, and feeling sorry for her family life.

Likes: Anything that can encourage someone to follow their dreams is a good thing in my book. The fact that this book is in the same universe as Dr. Gold’s “Briar Hospital” series yet assumed the reader didn’t need knowledge of the series to keep from getting lost, was a major benefit. And Hunter show great character growth through the book.

Dislikes: You are supposed to like Izzy. She’s the hero of the story. But honestly, she was hard for me to deal with. Here she is running better than women half her age, and it’s not enough for her. She can’t even have a civil conversation with her mother for most of the book. Then she gets upset about losing her dream before her dream is even shot. Don’t get me wrong, I hated Cedric Blake’s attempt to “help” his daughter win against “those people,” but I just couldn’t like Izzy. Heck, she didn’t even share a name with her husband, Ross.

Favorite Scene: As much as I disliked Izzy, my favorite part was how she handled the hearing for her right to compete in the Boston Marathon.

Conclusion: This can be a good book to encourage others to go for their dreams. It may have been all of the marathon running, or it could just have been Izzy, but I just didn’t care much for it. I hope you enjoy it more.

The King James Version Holy Bible

Overview: In the sum of sixty-six books, and multiple human authors, God has set out His story, and plan for human salvation. Of course we get some interesting side stories, like Ruth, or Samson, Jonah, just stories that don’t seem to fit with the “and that’s why Jesus came” main plot.

Story Telling: God uses a vast range of styles to write this book. You have the historical: Genesis, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles; the poetic: Psalms, Lamentations; legislative books: Exodus through Deuteronomy (Odd that these have so much history as well. Maybe God was onto something.); and lots of biographies. There are stories that show examples of the human condition at it’s finest (Abraham, David, Job) and at it’s worst (Ahab, Jezebel) with many in between (Jonah).

Likes: It’s a pretty hopeful book, as long as you take it to heart and don’t use it against others. It is rather easy to read, and easier to understand than Shakespeare. Not to mention, God is talking to you through it.

Dislikes: Written in the Bible: the genealogical lists do much in proving Jesus came as fully human, and can trace His lineage back to David then to Adam, but it’s the most boring part of the whole Book. Outside of the Bible: it’s the fact that nobody seems to see the Commandments, Laws, or other bits of wisdom included therein as applicable to themselves. These are just for everyone else. If we applied it to ourselves, in a personal sense, the world would be better off.

Favorite Scene: My favorite part of this Book is the fact *Spoiler Alert* God wins. He gets exactly what He wants.

Conclusion: Everyone should read this book cover to cover at least once. Learn from it, apply what you can to your life, and see where God will lead you from there. After all, the only thing you can change in this world is yourself.

Roy A. Teel Jr.’s Evil and the Details-The Iron Eagle 2

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Teel for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: John Swensen is back for a whole new situation. Steve is still searching for Molly, whose disappearance at the end of “Rise of the Iron Eagle” has left him depressed. Jim O’Brian has also decided, with Barbara’s help of course, to get remarried. No one needs to find a new serial killer, on focusing on little boys, in town. The only question is: who will find the killer first, the police or the Iron Eagle?

Story Telling: Mr. Teel is pretty good at getting in the Eagle’s mind. The questions concerning Molly were answered to my satisfaction. And we got to se how Sara is handling the fallout of the Cruthers Incident.

Likes: The way Sara was shown coming to terms with the Iron Eagle was well put in my opinion. Also, I liked the fact that Barbara and Jim were remarried.

Dislikes: I believe that Molly handled her dieing in a very bad way. In the words of Brooks ‘n Dunn “that ain’t no way to go.” This was also a more on the gory side, so reader beware.

Favorite Scene: My favorite part was learning who Cruthers’ heir was. That was perfect. It’s either that, or when Jim shows up in a new outfit.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good read. I enjoyed it. I hope it doesn’t get to be much more on the gory side, I’ll have to quit the series if it does. I like the idea of the story however, so let’s hope that it doesn’t go too far.

Dean Koontz’s Forever Odd: Odd Thomas 2

Overview: It’s been a few months since Stormy’s death. The ghosts are still visiting Odd. Too bad one of his visitors just happens to be his best friend’s father. What’s happened to Danny? And will Odd find him in time?

Story Telling: Mr. Koontz has pushed Odd a little out of his comfort zone. Good too. Something needed to shake him up and out of his funk. He doesn’t sound so desperate this time around. As with the first, this is strictly from Odd’s point-of-view.

Likes: Odd’s sense of right and wrong wouldn’t fit just anywhere. Danny needed his help and he was right there. Elvis is still offering what help he can.

Dislikes: Really, that would just be Datura. What was wrong with this woman? How many times must she be told that she’s wrong before she will listen?

Favorite Scene: My favorite part? Datura’s swansong, or when Odd and Danny realize she lied about the detonator. Oh…oh…oh…Buzzcut.

Conclusion: Mr. Koontz has made it so I’m eager to see what else Odd has coming. This was a fun fast-paced book. I enjoyed it.