Dean Koontz’s The Silent Corner-Jane Hawk 1

Overview: Going off-grid isn’t as easy as anyone might think. Most of the newest technology, if not all of it, is easily tracked. You have to be dedicated to shunning it. Jane Hawk has that dedication. She has to. Two months ago, her happy, optimistic husband, Nick, committed suicide in their bathroom. The thing is, his note was weird to those who read it. And like any good investigator working in law enforcement, Jane digs into it. Maybe ‘They’ shouldn’t have threatened her.

Story Telling: We have a ‘dark government’ type of thriller this time. Too bad it’s the beginning of a series.

Dislikes: The ‘They’ in this book needs a clear cut case of karma. No member of humankind deserves, is owed, or has the right to play ‘god.’ I don’t always like the results of God’s ordering of the world, but at least we actually have choices.

Likes: Jane has a drive to stop evil that is very much admirable. As well, she was able to find friends in the most unlikely of places.

Nathan Silverman seemed to have a strong sense of right and wrong. That and his drive for justice, made him a great man.

Favorite Character: Now this is a toss-up between Nathan and Dougal. Nathan was willing to give a friend the benefit of the doubt. And Dougal has yet to find a good cause that he doesn’t like.

Favorite Quote: Here’s one for those who wish to twist Scripture as a reason to hate the rich. “Wealth had not corrupted him. What he’d chosen to do with his wealth corrupted him.”

Favorite Scene: It’s the time that Jane spent with Travis. The little guy wasn’t sure of what he wanted more, riding or Mommy.

Conclusion: Keep in mind that this is the beginning of a series. So, it will be a slow start. If you can get by that, it’s a great book.

Ruth Emmie Lang’s Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

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

Overview: Weylyn Grey is an extraordinary man. He has lived with wolves, seems to have a knack for understanding any animal. Plants seem to thrive around him. And let’s not mention the weather. As remarkable as he is, can he find a way to talk to the woman he loves.

Story Telling: I would call this a magic realism/clean romance novels. Let’s face it, there are both magical and romantic elements in this one.

Dislikes: I had a few issues with this book. For starters, Weylyn seemed to be a coward. If he has, shall we call it a power failure, he would run. It’s easy to run. Sometimes, you have to cowboy up, and face the music. Yes, there were horrible consequences to his powers failures. Isolating yourself to learn control is admirable; isolating yourself to avoid temptation is not.

It seemed like Ms. Lang was trying to equate obsession with love. Don’t get me wrong. There are cases where utter devotion can seem like obsession, yet those cases are marriages that have withstood the test of time.

The only other problem I had with this book was with some of the ideas that were passed off as truth, yet were little more than politically correct prejudices.

One: Most home schooling parents are not teaching their children because they are either too bigoted or stupid to realize that public schools are the best. These parents almost always have their children’s best interests in mind. Also, they believe that some lessons that should be the parents’ job, not the schools.

Two: Not every Christian is a ‘young earth’ believer. Some of us not only believe in dinosaurs, we like them. We’re also glad that they are dead.

And three: Green energy just isn’t effective. Not only do you not get the electricity you would assume, they leave unintended consequences. For example: once the temperature reaches, I believe, ninety degrees, solar panels start losing power. Not to mention, windmills tend to kill the very birds you are trying to save. You might want to check me on this.

Likes: It may seem like this book went to the ‘dislike with a passion’ pile. It didn’t. There were many things that I liked.

Mary’s biology team, studying wolves, tried to pass on some good advice.

Weylyn found special people to become his extended family.

Duane showed that he was willing to do what it takes to save a life, as well as be a friend. Just remember a boss can be a friend, and still do things that might seem harsh.

Favorite Character: It would be Reverend Thomas Kramer. He showed the true spirit that Jesus asked of His disciples.

Favorite Quote: This might have been meant as a slam, but truth is truth. “When Mama met Weylyn, she was as sweet as syrup, which didn’t surprise me because she was raised in the Deep South, where hospitality is only second to Jesus.”

Favorite Scene: That would be the ever-growing forest. That would be a logger’s dream. No tree huggers, as the trees will be back by tomorrow.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. It just wasn’t to my tastes. It’s clean enough for a child to read but if you take that path, read it with them, so you can discuss what Weylyn did, or what they would do in that case.

Karen Chu’s Jawsome Shark Quizzes

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

Overview: How much do you know about sharks? Ms. Chu has put out a book that seeks to challenge that knowledge. What do you say? Are you up to the challenge?

Story Telling: We have a quiz and puzzle book, complete with subject specific trivia.

Dislikes: This is aimed at children, yes. But, to just imply that animals only kill to eat, is naïve at best. Just think about lions, for example.

Likes: Some of these questions were fascinating. And the games were fun, mostly. Then there’s just freaky information in between.

Conclusion: This was a fun book. It even has trivia to some popular franchises such as: Batman, Harry Potter, and the daddy of shark movies, Jaws. Enjoy this one.

Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library-Miss Marple 3

Overview: The Bantrys are a rather well-to-do family in St. Mary’s Mead. So, imagine the scandal that hits when a young woman is found in the library. Did I mention that she is dead? Lucky for them, Miss Marple can’t resist a good mystery. Why were the Bantrys picked to take the fall? And who is the girl?

Story Telling: We have another British manor mystery. If it’s called something else, please let me know.

Dislikes: The benefits of a small town–the closeness, the gossip mill, the affordability–can also sometimes be the downfall. Nobody wants to be on t he wrong side of the gossip mill.

Likes: Miss Marple has quite a way of thinking. She was unwilling to let an innocent man hang.

Colonel Bantry and Mrs. Bantry both showed great character.

Favorite Character: It’s Conway Jefferson. He was willing to give his children the best start in their lives.

Favorite Quote: A perfect quote for a mystery. “Human nature is very much the same anywhere, Sir Henry.”

Favorite Scene: Oh, that would be when Miss Marple was playing door-to-door solicitor for the church.

Conclusion: This was a fun little mystery. Though, Miss Marple is more suited to the cozy mystery fans.

Carole P. Roman’s Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag-Oh Susannah 1

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

Overview: Susannah has a problem. Her math homework is unfinished, she has gotten an unwanted invitation to a slumber party at a creepy house, and both have been hidden away in her book bag. And the problems keep piling on. How much can one bag take? And can Susannah find out how to take care of her problems?

Story Telling: This is an early-reader chap-book. Probably around second grade, maybe. It depends on your reader.

Artwork: What illustrations exist are mostly in black and white.

Dislikes: Susannah’s family needs help. She doesn’t seem to be understood by either side.

Likes: Susannah did find some help for her problems.

Favorite Quote: I can’t really find one without spoiling the story. Not good for such a small book.

Conclusion: This one was pretty good, even if it did get a little more serious than I’d prefer. Enjoy it with your young reader.

Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived In…Cuba

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

Overview: It’s time for another trip. This time we’re heading for one of the hold-overs of the Cold War, Cuba. What will we learn on this trip?

Story Telling: We have a new cultural travelogue.

Artwork: This one has semi-realistic illustrations mixed with photography.

Likes: This cultural book was kept more simplistic in terms of both particular words, as well as some of the day-to-day living conditions.

Conclusion: This was an interesting book. Just remember to do your own research, as there is more to any nation’s culture. Enjoy it with your travelers.

M. J. Arlidge’s Little Boy Blue & Hide and Seek-Helen Grace 5 & 6

I received these books for the purpose of fair and honest reviews, even if I’m treating them as one over-long book, just because he did.

Overview: Helen Grace is facing a nightmare from her past. People, who she has hired in the past, have been murdered. Guess how is the chief suspect. Helen’s track record should help keep her out of prison, right? I wouldn’t hold my breath. Maybe her team will have her back. Of course this is all predicated on Helen surviving prison. Especially, since there seems to be another serial killer operating with a captive audience.

Story Telling: These books are police procedurals, even if one takes place in prison.

Dislikes: I was really hoping that Mr. Arlidge wasn’t going to trash every Detective Superintendent that Helen Grace had. That didn’t work out. First Whitaker, then Harwood, and now Gardam? Why were those who were supposed to have some of the highest regard for life, be it of the suspect or the victims, shown to have no regard for the lives of their own people?

Not only that, but if you are a man in this series, you better be a doormat. If you’re not, you’ll be portrayed as a misogynist, a killer, or a scumbag.

Emilia hasn’t learned one thing in her career. She only knows how to destroy lives.

And has anyone thought about testing Helen for sociopathy?

Likes: Charlie is one of the best people in this series. She wasn’t willing to just buy Helen’s innocence, nor was she fast in betraying her boss.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote & Scene: I don’t have one this time around.

Conclusion: This series started strong, kind of like “Criminal Minds” based in England. Unfortunately, it seems to have gotten dark for the sake of darkness. If you continue the series after “The Doll’s House,” you are going to need to have a favorite in Helen Grace herself. I hope you enjoy it.

M. J. Arlidge’s Liar, Liar-Helen Grace 4

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

Overview: Helen Grace is on a brand new case. Somebody is starting fires. Three of them in one night. Two are at business properties, and the third is at a family home. What is the purpose of these fires? Is someone just having fun, albeit a sick form of it, or is it something far more nefarious?

Story Telling: We have another police procedural from England.

Dislikes: This book seems to push the idea that those born with disabilities shouldn’t be allowed to live. But, that’s not fair. It may seem cold, but children with epilepsy and cerebral palsy usually have a lot of medical bills. The easy path would have been for the Harrises to opt for an abortion, but they didn’t. They cowboyed up, and took responsibility for their actions. They worked themselves to the bone for their son. They hired people so that he was never alone. Does anyone have the right to damn the parents because they hired a bad care-giver? Did you know that dinner parties are how some business owners gain new clients? As far as I’m concerned Michael and Jacqueline Harris were treated unfairly at best.

And Emilia Garanita is a sick monster. There is no reason to take such pleasure in ruining somebody’s life like she does.

Likes: There were several people showed great strength. It’s hard to take responsibility for your actions in this day and age, and it’s refreshing to see such examples as Denise Roberts, Mandy Blayne, the Harrises, and the Simmses.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote: Okay, so it’s not from this book, but it’s so applicable. “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But everyone shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” Jeremiah 31:29-30, King James version. The emphasis is mine. There is another passage just as powerful in the whole chapter of Ezekiel 18.

Favorite Scene: It would be Charlie’s Christmas party.

Conclusion: This isn’t one of the better Helen Grace novels. And, while I was disappointed in the way the story unfolded, it is still a decent story.

M. J. Arlidge’s The Doll’s House-Helen Grace 3

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

Overview: Helen Grace has gotten a, perhaps unpleasant, distraction from her search for her nephew. A woman was found buried on a beach. How long has she been buried out there? It’s a surprise even to her closest family members. She’s still tweeting her life away. How long has this been going on? And does it have anything to do with the girl who recently went missing?

Story Telling: Once again we have the England-based police procedural.

Dislikes: I don’t understand Ceri Harwood. Helen wasn’t trying to interfere with Harwood’s career, her only job was to stop killers.

Lloyd Fortune was put in a bad position. I hope his decisions don’t harm his career.

Likes: Charlie is pregnant again. Yay! And Helen is starting to trust…somewhat. She can get better, maybe. And Ruby had some fight in her.

Favorite Character: This time it’s Caleb Fortune. Sometimes the hardest thing is to admit to a dark truth in order to show a loved one the way.

Favorite Quote: Not this time either.

Favorite Scene: Ruby’s escape attempt would be it. The girl has guts.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. Have fun joining the investigation.

M. J. Arlidge’s Pop Goes the Weasel-Helen Grace 2

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

Overview: It’s been a year since DI Helen Grace has been forced to face down a serial killer. Now it appears to be starting all over again. Men are being found in very compromising areas, and they aren’t the only ones suffering the consequences. Can this situation end any better than the last one?

Story Telling: This is another semi-dark police procedural. And yes, Helen hasn’t left England yet.

Dislikes: I have two problems with this novel. Let’s start with the major one first. There is a Christian denomination referenced in this book, the Christian Domestic Order to be precise. Now, I couldn’t write this review before I looked this denomination up. See, I thought the denomination was invented for the book. Unfortunately, that is only part of the truth. The Christian Domestic Order is called something else in the world, and it did originate in England. Yet the portrayal of this order in the book was much more violent than those who choose this order truly act. As it is, this book seems more inline with a certain Middle-Eastern religion, than straight-forward Christianity.

And then there was Emilia. The nicest way to put her in this book was that she was a pain. My reading partner has a very unladylike assessment of her. Yes, the public has a right to know if a serial killer is hunting in their neighborhoods. That right ends where the victims’, their families’, and other innocent bystanders’ rights begin. Some times you swallow your pride, and the story if you cannot get it without destroying an innocent’s life.

Likes: Charlie was still a good person to follow. We saw just how bad the situation in the last book affected her, and how she dealt with the fallout. She wants to do the right thing. Helen tried to do the best thing for her nephew.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote: I don’t know why I can’t find one here.

Favorite Scene: The best part was the epilogue. It was sweet.

Conclusion: This might be a novel that causes Mr. Arlidge to lose some of his readers. They must remember that Mr. Arlidge is British, as such, he gives a British point-of-view on Christianity, which might not be the same as America’s. And that’s sad, because it’s a good book. When it comes to the Christian aspects, try to picture the guy as someone who doesn’t represent Jesus very well. After all, it is a police procedural, and not all professing Christians are Christian-like. It’s another good book by Mr. Arlidge. I’m looking forward to the next.