Agatha Christi’s What Mrs. Gillicuddy Saw! Or 4:50 From Paddington

Overview: Mrs. Gillicuddy could’ve sworn that she saw something most unsavory through the windows of her train cabin. But nobody, in a position of authority, believes the old woman. She does have someone she can turn to. Here’s a puzzler for the elderly Miss Marple.

Story Telling: Once again we get a British Manor Mystery.

Dislikes: The grandfather of the Crackenthorpe family was totally wrong in my opinion. All Josiah did, was put a chasm of enmity between his son and his grandchildren. Families shouldn’t be fractured due to minor disagreements, especially disagreements on money. Unless, there’s a betrayal of trust (having an odd taste in art doesn’t count) or it’s a matter of life and death, the family unit should strive to stay together.

Likes: You might disagree with me, but I liked Miss Marple’s solution to investigating the crime.

Favorite Character: That would be Lucy Eyelesbarrow.

Favorite Quote: I’ll let you guess on this origin. “She and Jane had shown them all right!”

Favorite Scene: IT would be the conversation between the Lady Stoddard and Emma Crackenthorpe.

Conclusion: This was a fun book. If I may though, read this book before you read “A is for Arsenic.”

Christina Pfeiffer & Mary Robson’s Month-By-Month Gardening Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington, Lower British Columbia, Northern California

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

Overview: Are you living in the pacific northwest? Do you want to have a nice garden? This book might be of some help to you.

Story Telling: This is a reference book. It may be separated by month, but it is still a reference book.

Dislikes: This book does mention the top two poisonous plants–the castor bean and oleander–,but it does leave a gap in your knowledge. Please, do your research on the yew before you plant this tree.

Also, there didn’t seem to be any encouragement to master certain gardening skills. Instead Ms. Pfeiffer and Ms. Robson always advised the reader to seek the advice and help from the universities and the ‘certified’ experts.

Likes: This book does encourage people to try gardening.

Favorite Section: The specialty sections were quite fascinating.

Conclusion: Those gardeners focusing on the edible garden might find this book lacking. It is better suited, on the whole, for the ornamental gardener, as well as the new ones.

Holly Sterling’s Hiccups

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

Overview: Ruby and Oscar are playing when they run into a little trouble. Can Ruby help Oscar cure his hiccups?

Story Telling: We get a cute rhyming story for the young ones. It will be a plus if they already like Dr. Seuss.

Artwork: The illustrations are chubby little color pencil sketches.

Likes: Ruby showed some good problem-solving, and critical thinking skills. She certainly shows your little ones how to think outside of the box.

Conclusion: This was a fun story. Enjoy it with your little ones and their furry friends.

Dean Koontz’s The Servants of Twilight

Overview: Single mother Christine Scavello has had a bit of luck after years of an oppressed childhood. Unfortunately, nothing in her life has prepared her for this. Her son, Joey, for all of his sweetness, has run afoul of an old woman. There’s something about her that seems unnatural. She seems to have latched onto the idea that Joey must die. Who can Christine turn to in order to save her son?

Story Telling: This is a supernatural thriller. And please, don’t start thinking werewolves and vampires. I have yet to see Mr. Koontz write about those.

Dislikes: Mother Grace may have claimed to be working for God, but–truly–you only have to look at her fruit. Outside of putting an entire city ‘under the ban,’ has God ever demanded the death of a child?

Also I expected little more from the ending. This disconnect could be because this book was one of Mr. Koontz’s earlier novels.

Likes: Charlie was very determined to do the right thing by Christine and Joey.

Denton Boothe was the biggest help Charlie or Christine could have had.

Favorite Character: It would be either Denton Boothe or Kyle Barlowe.

Favorite Quote: Here’s something you might want to remember. “The thought is father to the deed, right?”

Favorite Scene: It would be when Henry and Charlie went to see Denton Boothe.

Conclusion: Like I said earlier, the ending is where I felt disappointment in the story. Other than that, we had quite the interesting ride.

Roger Stern’s The Death and Life of Superman

Overview: Superman has faced many enemies in his career. Darkseid and Mongul have both given him the fight of his career. Now, however, a monster arises that just might end Superman’s life. This begs the question: when one of earth’s greatest heroes fall, who will step into his place?

Story Telling: This book asks a good question: can a story told over the span of forty comic books be condensed into one volume? No, I’m not wading into the minefield of whether or not comic books are real books. I’m just saying that Mr. Stern did a good job.

Dislikes: Paul Westfield’s attitude about those with powers is horrible.

Likes: Bibbo was cool. What else do you call someone who respects his hero so much that he tries to better the world?

Jonathan and Martha held themselves together pretty well considering the circumstances.

And Emil Hamilton held a self-deprecating style of speech at times.

Favorite Character: It’s a toss-up. Now, you can’t call Superman, because if you don’t like Superman, why are you reading this book? For my toss-up, it’s between John Henry Irons, Jonathan Kent, and Bibbo.

Favorite Quote: This is something that more people should consider. “Power carries a lot of responsibilities, son, and it’s up to each of us to use whatever talents that we have to leave this world a better place than we found it.”

Favorite Scene: I loved it when Bibbo was handing out lunches to the homeless.

But it could also be when Batman foiled the assassination attempt at the funeral.

Conclusion: This was a terrific story. Though, I believe it was more of Metropolis’s story, and not Superman’s.

Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived on…Mars

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

Overview: Are you ready for a new series? This series is taking us off planet. Let’s visit the red planet. What can we see here?

Story Telling: This is more of a scientific travelogue. At least, that’s what I would call it.

Artwork: These illustrations seem to be more pastels with watercolors. They have a good smoky look.

Dislikes: Why is it every time a book is supposed to be educational, we lose the fun? You can learn while having fun. In fact, you can learn better when you are having fun.

Likes: Um, some of the facts were interesting. Knowing the source of the names is something the literary-minded will enjoy.

Conclusion: This book is definitely for the budding astronomer. Enjoy it with your future astronauts.

Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived in…the Ancient Mali Empire

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

Overview: Crank up the time machine. This time, we’re heading to the middle ages in the Mali Empire. What will we learn this time around.

Story Telling: We have a historical culture book.

Artwork: We have the watercolor illustrations this time around.

Dislikes: Here’s the thing, I understand that people want to believe that, as a whole, humanity is intrinsically good. However, when the root of a belief system is–what most of the people would call–sinful, then the adherents aren’t going to be, shall we say, open to other belief systems.

Likes: We got a glossary at the end of the book.

Conclusion: This is a hard book to read. I don’t mean the word choices, or difficulty to understand. I’m talking about the subject matter itself. Do your own research, and maybe you need a Higher Power’s help with discernment. It does make for a good conversation starter.

Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity-Jason Bourne 1

Overview: Jason Bourn was born–no pun intended–around six months ago. That’s when he woke up in the doctor’s home. Too bad all he has is muscle-memory. If he had more, he might understand why t these people want him dead. Can he survive long enough to find out who he is, and what he is?

Story Telling: This is an international spy thriller. Please don’t confuse it for the movie. In this case, they are two different animals.

Dislikes: For the most part, it was the international aspects of the story that bugged me. Yes, I get that there’s this rush for authenticity in your writing. IT just seems unwise to alienate those readers who might enjoy your books simply because they don’t have the working knowledge of the foreign language used. Remember, even Mr. Tolkien, with all of his fantastical languages, offered the leisure reader a translation–most of the time.

Likes: Jason has a great attitude. For the most part, as long as you were decent around him, he was decent to you.

Favorite Character: It would be Jason.

Favorite Scene: That would be when Jason went back for Marie.

Conclusion: This book has an intrinsic story, be ready for that, though you’ll at least need a French-English dictionary for translation purposes. And the time it takes for that translation.

Edgar Allen Poe’s The Complete Tales and Poems

Overview: I’m sure everyone has heard of Edgar Allen Poe. After all, a few of his stories and poems have been made into movies in the early days of Hollywood. This just happens to be a complete collection of his works.

Story Telling: Well, we have poetry, some science-fiction, a few horror, and –surprise!– Mr. Poe put out a few detective stories.

Dislikes: Outside of the gore in the horror ones, most of these stories made no sense to me. It’s almost as if Mr. Poe was playing brain games with his audience.

Likes: For the most part, our antagonists got what was coming to them.

Favorite Stories: “The Man That Was Used Up” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” were pretty good.

Conclusion: I don’t know what to make of Mr. Poe’s work. For someone with the reputation of either being loved or hated, he really didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Must be a matter of tastes.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm

Overview: The Manor Farm is brewing up a storm. Old Major has the animals of the farm dreaming of the end of human rule. By a sheer stroke of luck, the animals get their dream. I wonder if they have ever heard the warning: “Be careful what you wish for.”

Story Telling: Mr. Orwell called this a fairytale; others have called it a cautionary tale. Let the reader decide.

Dislikes: Any member of the pigs, including Snowball and Old Major, just worked my nerves. It was like they planned a coup, and used the others as pawns.

And, why could none of the animals think at all?

Likes: Boxer wanted the best for his friends. Benjamin stayed, I think, just for Boxer. Of course, Molly had the right idea.

Favorite Character: It would be Benjamin.

Favorite Quote: I liked Benjamin’s temperament. “…for instance, he would say that God had given him a tail to keep the flies off, but that he would sooner have had no tail and no flies.”

Favorite Scene: I enjoyed how Clover and Benjamin tended to Boxer. It’s either that one, or when they catch Squeaker messing with the commandments.

Conclusion: This might be a good book to read for anyone working around politics, even if it’s just to vote. Come to think about it, it’s probably a good idea to read it if you are a social activist as well. It’s a good reminder of what today’s heroes can turn into.