C.J. Carmichael’s Buried-Twisted Cedar Mysteries 1

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

Overview: Welcome to Twisted Cedars, Oregon, home to the best-selling author Dougal Lachlan. He has returned home for a couple of reasons. One: his baby sister is getting married to the former star quarterback, who has a secret Dougal is well aware of. And two: someone is feeding him some insider information about a series of murders that took place in the mid-seventies. With the help of the local librarian, Charlotte Hammod, can he find the truth about the crimes? And can he save his sister from making a big mistake?

Story Telling: Mrs. Carmichael has merged both romance novels with mysteries in this book. Thankfully, it isn’t a Harlequin romance.

Likes: The fact that Dougal and his mother kept getting letters from his father tied perfectly into the end.

Charlotte was at least honest about why she couldn’t accept her marriage proposal from Wade.

I’d like to thing that Daisy was reaching out to Dougal. You’ll understand when you finally see Daisy.

Dislikes: Jamie seemed unable to see her own shame about her family. Yes, Dougal was ashamed of where he lived. But, she seemed to be ashamed that he had moved away. Also, she didn’t seem to give Dougal any choice other than: ‘bless my marriage, or don’t come to the wedding.’ Only to get angry when he didn’t show.

Kyle and his father need help with their priorities. Neither one of them seemed to understand that it was wrong to hurt people in order to get what they want.

Favorite Character: Stella had a great attitude. She helped cover for Kate Lachlan when the family needed the help.

Favorite Quote: This is so true. “Every tragedy left misery in its wake.”

Favorite Scene: It was beautiful when Dougal spent the time with Ruth Fraser, the fourth victim’s mother. He let her express the better memories of Isabel, and not overly focus on her nightmare.

Conclusion: This was a wonderful story. There is something about that will attract those who enjoy romances or mysteries. Personally, I think everyone ought to try this one.

Jeffrey A. Ballard’s Vacationing Offworlds-Ballard’s Speculative Fiction Collection 1

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

Overall Overview: Mr. Ballard is celebrating his success as a writer by offering us a chance to read some of his short stories. Let’s get this show on the road.

The Bear That Painted the Stars

Overview: In the far future there is a mining accident on a Zhg mining settlement. The Order, the religious organization working with the human government, has sent a team in under cover to find out if human technology has played a role in the accident.

Likes: This story wasn’t bad for a space story. The characters were strong and relatable.

Dislikes: I couldn’t stand Dallic. Yes, sacrificing seven to end a war before it begins was wrong–we don’t turn our people over to a foreign government for punishment, but he murdered someone who trusted him.

Conclusion: This one was okay, but I never liked the idea of sacrificing anyone without their agreement.

The Kerephrine Reaction

Overview: Nira Rosenberg is the chief researcher dealing with the effects of an alien chemical that causes homicidal tendencies in humans, called kerephrine. Unfortunately, there was an accidental release of the chemical in the greater Los Angeles metropolis. How did it get out? And can Nira find out the truth before her brother undergoes surgery in order to become a colonist.

Likes: This is what you get when you cross a painful introvert with a deadly chemical. Nira really just cares for her brother. You can also feel her fear of being left all alone.

Dislikes: Nira seemed to have trouble with admitting that she was having trouble to anyone.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. One along the lines of ‘28 Days Later.’

Voices in the Deep

Overview: Kale is the senior member of a ‘city of refuge’ hydro forming squad. He is haunted by the voices of the living, unlike the rest of the team. Now he has a new recruit who has a secret of his own.

Likes: The whole idea of using the city of refuge law from the Old Testament was a great idea.

Dislikes: My problem came with how the law was applied. First the cities weren’t to be used as a means of punishment. You cannot put someone through the wringer then claim it as ‘Guilty by Divine Punishment’ when he or she snaps. Also there is this important part of the city of refuge law that the avenger of blood was to be kept away from the one unwittingly killed another.

Conclusion: All the action aside, I didn’t care for this story at all.

The Medicine Doctor

Overview: What happens when someone steals the outfit of a dead man? Well, our protagonist is about to find out.

Likes: This story had a lot of hope going for it. Yes, the ‘doctor’ was a scoundrel, but he redeemed himself rather fast.

Conclusion: As long as I have hope, I can handle just about any story. This was a good one.

The Chime-hour Born

Overview: Tabitha is a special woman. Born during the ‘chime-hour.’ As such, she is far more sensitive to spiritual predators than most. And it seems like something else knows.

Dislikes: I just don’t care for stories where evil seems to have the advantage.

Conclusion: I didn’t like this one much.

The Cancer Under St. Paul’s

Overview: A work of evil is stalking the streets of Victorian London. A monster is mangling humans in search of something called the conduit. How many will die before the conduit is found?

Likes: Henry did the right thing by Will. He taught his son a trade that could support Will later on in life.

Conclusion: I can’t tell you much or I’ll give it away. But this is an excellent story. Enjoy the read.

The Highlight of a Life

Overview: Has there ever been a mistake in your life that you wish you could change? Charlie Pearson has been given that chance by a mistake in a multi-verse experiment.

Likes: Charlie handled the accident quite well. For that matter, so did Reuben.

Dislikes: Dr. Benzer. He’d do better on Prozac.

Conclusion: This one nearly brought me to happy tears. A must read.

Human Plopping

Overview: Um…gross.

Conclusion: I repeat: um…gross!

Overall Conclusion: Out of eight stories, I found four that I really enjoyed three that I hated, and one that was gross. Not a bad collection.

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child’s Gideon’s Sword-Gideon Crew 1

Overview: Gideon Crew is a man having both the best and worst year of his life. The best part? He has finally brought down the man who framed Melvin Crew as a Russian spy. The worst part? He just found out that he has, maybe a year to live. There’s nothing like a job with a game of cat-and-mouse to take your mind off of your mortality, right? See, a Chinese scientist has smuggled something innovative into the United States. Gideon’s job is to find it. Let’s just hope the cat doesn’t catch the mouse.

Story Telling: This is more of an old-fashion adventure novel. Gideon seems to live in the Pendergast universe.

Likes: Eli Glinn is back. (Now you see why I say that Gideon is in Pendergast’s universe.) And EES is working the same as always.

Gideon seems to be able to sell anyone a bill of goods.

And Dajkovic was a honorable man.

Dislikes: Mindy was somebody that I could never really trust.

Nodding Crane didn’t honor his mother very well.

I’m not sure of what to make of the Falun Gong adherents. They seemed a bit off, claiming to be working for freedom, yet utilizing many hacker tricks.

Favorite Character: I’m going to go with Eli. Yes, you can trust Gideon to do the right thing in the long run. But, while Eli may not tell you everything, he will not lie to you.

Favorite Quote: Gideon has a good come-back here. “What’s wrong with patriotism–especially when it pays?”

Favorite Scene: Oh boy. Any time that Gideon was trying to get to see Mark Wu was funny.

Conclusion: Gideon was a fun guy to follow. I wonder what will happen to him next.

Lis Wiehl & April Henry’s Hand of Fate-A Triple Threat Novel 2

Overview: Shock-jock Jim Fat has made a lot of enemies over the years. His talk show is the reason. The Hand of Fate is how he makes his opinions known. He is also antagonistic. But none of this should be a death sentence, though. It’s up to the Triple Threat Club to find out who took Fate out of The Hand of Fate.

Story Telling: This is a different kind of Christian Fiction that I’ve ever run across. I think that it’s Allison’s prayers that had it labeled as such. It’s also a murder mystery.

Likes: For the Christian Fiction aspect, we weren’t treated to a thinly veiled sermon designed to bring us to Jesus. If I’m going to read a preachy book, it’ll be a honest one, and probably non-fictional.

Dislikes: This didn’t seem to be a very mysterious mystery. Parts of it just plodded along. Nor was I able to find many clues as to how committed the murder.

Nic’s attitude about both God and men, while believable, seemed to be over-emphasized, in my opinion.

For somebody who’s supposed to be a crime reporter, Cassidy made several stupid judgment calls.

Favorite Character: This would be Bernice and Lloyd Hedges. They didn’t kick Nic out when they learned of her pre-marital pregnancy. Not only that, but they pulled up the slack when Nic needed help.

Favorite Quote: Sorry guys. I couldn’t find one this time around.

Favorite Scene: I liked the Hedges’ family meal scene.

Conclusion: This book seems like it would have made a better short story. But, if you like chick-lit, then you might enjoy this one.

John Sanford’s Invisible Prey-Lucas Davenport 17

Overview: Lucas Davenport is having a heck of a week. First, the BCI has been contacted over a politician’s, um…proclivity problems. And second, there is the homicides of an elderly woman and her maid. The murders ought to be a clean cut mystery. After all it appears to be a home invasion gone wrong. So why didn’t the thieves take more of the electronics? This case should be interesting, to say the least.

Story Telling: Mr. Sanford spun a clever little thriller by following two people full-time and two more part-time. Of course most of the time is spent with Davenport. If you have a problem with vulgarity, let me warn you that there’s quite a bit here.

Likes: Mr. Sanford is an equal opportunity baiter. He took a shot at both the Republicans and Democrats. Lucas didn’t want to be turned into a political hatchet man, and I believe he avoided it well.

Weather helped Lucas more with the case than she had realized. A good spouse for an investigator to have. You always need an extra set of eyes.

I also appreciated what Lucas did for Sandy. She seemed so insecure, so Lucas pushed her until she could, or would, push back.

Dislikes: Amity was an idiot. Hasn’t she ever heard the phrase that “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”?

Leslie and Jane were a couple of greedy people. I just wish that they had been caught earlier. But it was Jane’s reaction about the elderly that really bothered me.

Now, we get to Gabriella Coombs. Yes, she was one of the victims’ granddaughter, but there is no way any woman ought to be thinking of trying to nab a married man.

Favorite Character: I have to pick Ronnie Lash. He didn’t seem to be offended that Lucas or any other police officer wanted to talk to him about his Aunt’s murder, or that of her employer. He was a good teenager, and was working to pull himself up to a higher circle.

Favorite Quote: “Can you manipulate somebody into something, if he knows that you’re manipulating him, and wants to be?” It’s a real good question.

Favorite Scene: Leslie learned the hard way why you never mess with a biting dog’s human buddy. It’s the scene where you can play ‘count the bites.’ Too bad about Screw though. He wasn’t half bad for a half-pit.

Conclusion: This was a very interesting book. I just wish that I had started with a book earlier in the series.

Leslie Wickman’s God of the Big Bang

I received this book for the purposes of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Dr. Wickman asks us a question that hits pretty close to a Christian’s heart. Can science and God co-exist? She believes that she as already found her answer. Now, Dr. Wickman is going to lead us down the rabbit-hole–so to speak–so we can decide the answer for ourselves.

Story Telling: This is like a thesis paper, but one where–with a healthy interest in science–the general reader can understand the concepts behind it.

Likes: Most of the science was easy to understand. Dr. Wickman included the Pascal’s Wager Theory as well.

The bibliography is extensive. As well, there is the comfort of knowing that an honest study of “The Big Bang” theory supports God’s existence.

Dislikes: Now here’s my problem. Dr. Wickman seems to contradict herself in chapter eight. Specifically on page 118, she implies that the plants’ life-cycles end as fossil fuels, but then on page 121, she claims that fossil fuels are nonrenewable. Which statement is true? Are we saying fossil fuels are nonrenewable because we burn through them too fast? Or could it be that he fossil fuels are always in the process of renewing themselves, and we just haven’t found all of the veins?

I would have preferred to use only one version of the Bible for Scriptural citations. It’s just neater that way.

Most of my problems came in chapters eight and nine. We have thrown money after the water situation in developing countries as if we were fighting a fire. If money was the answer, don’t you think it would have worked by now? It’s the same thing with global warming. We should do what we can to be faithful stewards, but some things are just out of our hands. On a side note, biodiversity is great, but you don’t preserve it at the cost of a human life. I’m not saying that Dr. Wickman disagrees with me; I’m saying that you can infer that possibility from chapter eight.

We are just going to have to disagree about the origin of true, mysterious, UFOs. It’s just too neat to claim that those who have had an evident encounter were involved–either knowingly or unknowingly–in the occult.

Favorite Quote: This gives me hope for those who truly don’t know if there is a God. “The late British philosopher Antony Flew, who recently converted from atheism to theism, cited the motivation for his conversion as “reason, mainly in the form of arguments to design.””

Favorite Scene: The best part to remember from this book, whether you believe in God or not, is the citation of Pascal’s Wager. That and the visual of the odd that we came into being by way or chance alone.

Conclusion: Dr. Wickman has a great study with this book. But, I would suggest that you use and compare the verses with the King James version of the Bible. Have fun. Yes, you can have fun studying.

Steve Martini’s The Jury-Paul Madriani 6

Overview: There’s been a horrible crime in San Diego. Kalista Jordan, a molecular electronics specialist, has been murdered in a rather brutal way. I mean, what else can you call strangulation that almost cuts through the jugular? Paul Madriani is defending the accused, one Dr. David Crone, who seems to be a better witness for the prosecution than a defendant. Can Madriani save his client’s life, and find the true killer? Or will David Crone be sacrificed for the prosecutor’s promotion?

Story Telling: This is one of the earlier Madriani stories (Sarah is twelve), so this one spends more time in the courtroom.

Likes: Paul put his profession where his heart is. A daughter of one of his friend’s has a devastating illness, and Paul does what he can to get her involved with a study, to see if anything can be done for her siblings.

Harry has a few good traits here as well. He makes friends easy, and uses trivia that can help with many situations.

Dislikes: I hated Kalista’s attitude. It was as if she was trying to ruin a man’s reputation based on some of her mother’s ‘war stories.’

And Dr. Crone isn’t someone that I can agree with at anytime. His problems came from his racial studies. Why is it that those calling the loudest for diversity, wants to make everyone the same?

Oh, and when you’re prosecuting someone, maybe politics or promotions should be the last things on your mind.

Then there was quite a bit technical. That’s not too much fun for me.

Favorite Character: Paul makes it this time. Harry was dancing on the edge of the dark side.

Favorite Quote: Paul apologized for this one, but I don’t think he meant it. ““Maybe we should license them like firearms,” I say.”

Favorite Scene: You will need a bowl of popcorn when the judge finds out about the undercover cop talking to Dr. Crone. I don’t feel sorry for the prosecution.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. If you enjoy techno-thrillers or legal thrillers, then you should enjoy this one.

Dean Koontz’s Life Expectancy

Overview: Jimmy Tock’s life has been framed by a series of prophecies that his grandfather, Josef Tock, has made. Five days are in Jimmy’s future; five days of terrible consequences. Now the first of the five days is just around the corner. Can Jimmy have a more comfortable day due to Grandpa’s warnings? One thing is for sure, he still has four terrible days left, so survival isn’t going to be a problem.

Story Telling: Mr. Koontz mostly focuses on the five terrible days in Jimmy’s life. But no dog this time around. I think Grandma Rowena would scare the poor thing off.

Likes: The fact that a prophecy was made didn’t mean that the days were set in stone. Bad things happened, but the Tock family held itself together well.

Rowena was definitely one to play the mind games. I don’t want to live with her fairy tales, though.

Charlene made a very difficult choice. I’m not so sure I could have pulled it off.

Dislikes: Konrad Beezo did make the right choice when he tried to help Natalie. But, his problem was that he could only see the Beezo consisting of clowns. That is usually a dangerous style of thinking.

Virgilio Vivacemente was evil. There is no two ways about it. Anyone who sees family members, especially children, as commodities to sell, buy, or trade, has missed the boat in this life.

Favorite Character: Rowena and Charlene were so cool. They really made the book for me.

Favorite Quote: Remember this one, and you can’t go wrong. ““Answering evil with evil just means everyone loses,” Lorrie said.”

Favorite Scene: We have two. The first is witnessing Lorrie being rolled into the delivery room, shouting the names of beautiful things as if they were curses.

The second is when Jimmy and Lorrie are on their way to meet with Virgilio and their parents, with some of the neighbors all come together to watch the children and play a “spirited” game of bridge, complete with baseball bats.

Conclusion: It’s another great book from Mr. Koontz. I personally agree wit his answer to what matters most to a child’s development: nature or nurture? I hope you find this one just as fascinating.

Brooks Olbrys’s The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob-A Challenging Job

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

Overview: Let’s meet Blue Ocean Bob. He dreams of being a marine scientist. How about we follow hem and see how he works towards that dream. Along the way, we can meet some of Bob’s closest companions and see their take on his dreams.

Story Telling: This chapter book has an up-beat rhythm and some amazing illustrations.

Likes: Blue Ocean Bob was willing to take advice from those he came in contact with. Doc seemed to be full of useful information and advice for the best way to get things done.

Also, Mr. Olbry set out to show, and in my opinion did show, that dreaming isn’t enough. Bob didn’t just sit around dreaming of the day that he would be a marine science, he took an active role in working towards those dreams. This is a step that I think many miss.

Dislikes: Sad as it is, Xena meant the best for Bob, but she was trying to crush his dreams. It’s her words that I dislike: I understand her position. Nobody wants to see his or her loved ones get hurt.

Favorite Character: A mentor is someone we all need in our lives. That’s why I like Doc. He took the time to be that mentor, and a friend.

Favorite Quote: Earl the Clam gives us this one, it’s definitely one to take to heart. “Never give up on the dream you hold dear. Keep doing your best and new paths will appear.”

Favorite Scene: I like how Bob got back to the island after warning Al about the storm.

Conclusion: This was a fun read, with an important message. Enjoy it with your dreamer.

Marci and Elle Fair’s The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant-Ellie’s First Plane Ride

I received this book courtesy of Ms. Fair and Miss Fair for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Ellie is so excited. She is going to visit some of her relatives. There’s a problem though. She has to take a plane to get to her relatives. She has never flown before, but Pudgy is coming too. Maybe the ride won’t be too bad.

Story Telling: The Ladies Fair have continued with the light feel of their books, as well as having the book resemble a scrapbook.

Likes: The theme here was great one. As long as you have a friend along, scary new things aren’t quite so bad. The read-along words are back as well.

Favorite Character: Pudgy is still my favorite character.

Favorite Quote: This was a cute one. “Ellie and Pudgy found lots of elephants around the zoo who looked friendly… …but none of them had much to say about her real relatives.”

Favorite Scene: The best part for me was watching Pudgy try to use a neck pillow.

Conclusion: The Ladies have put out another tale of friendship and adventure. Enjoy this one with your children and their ‘friends.’