Michael Phillip Cash’s Stillwell

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

Overview: Paul Russo is just now returning to the workforce after his wife’s failed fight with cancer. Allison Russo was his whole world, how can he go on without her? Now he is having dreams about Allison being in danger. On top of that, he has been tapped to oversee the sell of the Andrewses ancestral home, Stillwell Manor. Stillwell is said to be haunted, but Paul doesn’t believe in ghosts. So no problem, right?

Story Telling: Once again, Mr. Cash provides us an urban fantasy haunting.

Likes: Both Paul’s family and Allison’s were there fro the Russo family. Paul needed them, as much as they needed him, and it’s great to see that they were able to pull together during such a dark time.

Molly was kind of fun. She’s the kind of girl that you ought to be listening to in ghost stories. She seems to have so much belief in, and knowledge of, the paranormal world.

Hannah’s story was kind of sad, but ended in the right way.

Dislikes: I have little respect for those who cheat on their spouses. That means that both Craig and Melissa Andrews aren’t going to be my favorite characters. Also, Craig didn’t seem to really feel anything stronger than lust. Nor did he have any familial pride.

Squire Andrews was totally wrong. I can’t really say too much about him without ruining Hannah’s story.

And why do the schools always lean towards professional psychiatric help? Could it be, maybe, because of the professional drugs?

The first half of the novel was a bit depressing. But Paul was still trying to get on with life. Though Allison’s ‘monkey wrench’ felt more like a downer.

Favorite Character: I guess it would be Molly, Nonnie, and June. They were always cooking.

Favorite Quote: This fit’s the whole story. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost. What happened at Stillwell?” –Molly.

Favorite Scene: It was kind of cool that Paul found the secret documents, both the letter from Craig’s father, and Hannah’s journal.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story, at least after the first half of the book.

Michael Phillip Cash’s The Hanging Tree

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Cash for the honor of a fair and honest review.

Overview: Arielle has a problem. Her parents have divorced, and nobody asked for her opinion. She doesn’t like her father’s newest lady, so why should she care if he likes her newest boyfriend? And what does he have in common with the town’s ‘hanging tree’?

Story Telling: Can urban fantasy work as a novella? Let’s find out.

Likes: Peter did his best by his daughters. Their mother did some pretty awful things, yet he never ran her down in front of them.

The girls’ Grandmother really stepped up as well.

And who would feel for Goody Bennett? She just wanted to do right by her town, and was misunderstood.

Dislikes: Goody’s nemesis, George Harmond–would be Reverend–, really needed to try reading the Bible, before he tried preaching it. He would have found laws against coveting, lying, murder, and even a special message from Jesus about doing good on the Sabbath.

And Arielle was a little too self-centered for my tastes. Sorry darlin’, but your parents’ love-lives do not revolve around your world. Nor can you insist that things stay the same. Life has an annoying habit of throwing change at us, and it’s not even the kind that can easily be spent.

Favorite Character: Peter Harmond.

Favorite Quote: “It was your own free will. The curse found you.” Goody Bennett.

Favorite Scene: The best part of the book was when Arielle had her conversation with Goody. That was perfect.

Conclusion: This was a good story. One that points out the results of your actions. Plus, I liked Goody’s definition of Hell.

Federico Maria Rivalta’s Murder on the 18th Green

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

Overview: Ricardo Ranieri has gotten a bit of a shock. Massimo Salvioni disappeared after their last golf game with the count’s son. Unfortunately, Massimo isn’t found in the most, shall we say, lively condition. His demise is just the start of the crime spree. With the help of the D.A. Guilia Dal Nero, can Ricardo find out who’s doing the killings, without becoming a victim himself?

Story Telling: We have an Italian murder mystery here, translated into English for our benefit.

Likes: Massimo and his wife seemed like such nice people.

Dislikes: I have a confession. Ricardo isn’t one of my favorite protagonists. In fact, the most interesting thing that he ever talks about is golf. Is this a bad time to say that sports bore me?

Dal Nero is not the kind of woman that I can get along with. It seemed like she didn’t really care if Ricardo had the information that he needed to stay alive. I get it, he is a reporter, but he was keeping up his end of the bargain.

There was plenty of thing that still bother me about this book, yet going into them would spoil the story for any potential readers. Therefore, I’ll leave the dislikes as they are.

Favorites: Other than Mila, Newton, and the Salvionis there’s not much in my favorite categories.

Conclusion: This is a decent mystery. I just clashed with the characters. Oh, someone should teach Newton to not eat cellphones.

Dean Koontz’s The Bad Place

Overview: Frank Pollard has a major problem. He has no memory of his past. And when he goes to sleep, he wakes up with riches, or worse. In desperation, he reaches out to Bobby and Julie Dakota of Dakota & Dakota Investigations. Can they help Frank? And who is the man who can use the blue light?

Story Telling: Mr. Koontz leads us into the darkness that can surround the individuals in this novel. Especially the darkness that comes from some situations.

Likes: Clint and Felina had that special relationship, one full of devotion. Bobby and Julie complimented each other well. And Thomas should be a lesson to us all about the wisdom of denouncing a life just because the person might be deficient in one or more attributes.

Dislikes: I read Dean Koontz books for the ‘good will overcome’ themes. Unfortunately, too many of the good were lost in this novel. As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of dark novels. On that note, I wanted to shoot Roselle Pollard. You’ll see what I mean.

Favorite Character: I would have to pick Thomas.

Favorite Quote: Bobby and Julie meat a couple of ‘boat people’ during their investigation. The husband, Tuong, offers this bit of advice. “Everywhere is danger. Life itself is danger. Less risky never being born.”

Favorite Scene: I enjoyed Clint and Felina’s dinner conversation.

Conclusion: This book had too many victims, especially too many who should have been more aware of the danger. I prefer some of Mr. Koontz’s other novels.

Jim Butcher’s Skin Game-The Dresden Files 15

Overview: Being the Winter Knight isn’t easy. Especially since Harry is also the warden of Demonreach, and he still suffers from his migraines. Now, Mab has a rather inconvenient order. She has a debt to pay off to Nicodemus Archleone–yes, that Nicodemus, leader of the Black Denariians,–and she wants to use Harry to pay it off. This ought to be fun. Who doesn’t like a game of ‘circle the knife’? One slip up, and Harry will feel that one in his back.

Story Telling: Everybody’s favorite wizard, aside from Gandalf, is back in this urban fantasy.

Likes: Harry had to play a smooth game here. He had to stick to the letter of Mab’s orders, while keeping the innocent safe.

Oh! Michael is back. That’s just a big plus.

Dislikes: Faerie politics are actually worse that regular politics. How does that happen? Members of The Faerie Courts can’t even lie!

Nicodemus is one cold man. He had already beaten Murphy, his actions afterwards was inexcusable.

And Molly is going to be trouble. She is too secretive, and about things that are necessary for her family to know.

Favorite Character: Michael Carpenter, who else?

Favorite Quote: Michael has a way of making people feel better. ““In other words,” he said, “despite all of the things you know, and all of the incredible things you can do…you’re only human.”” Talk about putting things into perspective.

Of course, Charity has a good one too. “Kids need their father to come home safe, Harry. Make sure it happens.” I’ll leave you to guess who she is talking about.

Favorite Scene: Oh, there’s Harry’s discovery of what the parasite is. Or Nicodemus’s face when Michael came out of his gate. Or the time Harry spends with Maggie. The joyful reunion with Mouse. Or even Uriel’s choice.

Conclusion: This was a good book. I just hope that Harry goes back to working with the everyday people soon.

Lucy Ravitch’s The Pancake Menu-What Will You Order?

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

Overview: What’s better than eating pancakes? Making a family day of cooking them (complete with measurement lessons), then feasting. Let’s see what Ms. Ravitch has in store for us here.

Story Telling: Ms. Ravitch has designed this book to double as a game book. We have recipes, but we also have prices on the ‘menu’ so the younger participants can play restaurant.

Likes: Learning can be fun. Ms. Ravitch includes fractions, along with money and time.

Favorite Recipe: I plan to try the ‘overstuffed pancakes.’ They sound great.

Conclusion: This is both a nice recipe book, as well as a good teaching resource. Have fun, and remember to not let the children get too close to the hot griddle.

Chris Patchell’s In the Dark

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

Overview: Marissa Rooney is living every parent’s worse nightmare. Her daughter, Brooke, has disappeared during a night out with friends. Who would want to hurt Brooke? Marissa, along with Seth Crawford, is in a frantic race against time to find Brooke. Especially since she is diabetic, and she doesn’t have her insulin.

Story Telling: We have a gritty suspense story from Mrs. Patchell in this book.

Likes: The idea of the story sounded great. Marissa is devoted to her children.

Dislikes: Here’s my problem. We spent, to my mind at least, an unacceptable amount of time in the psycho’s head.

Also, the police not putting much concern or priority on a college girl’s disappearance might make sense, but not when that college girl is a diabetic. It may just be me, but I believe the police would err on the side of caution then.

Kelly was just a brat. When your sister is missing, you don’t attack your mother’s parenting skills. Especially when you just don’t like her love life.

Favorites: I don’t really have any this time around.

Conclusion: This book is more suited for those who like morally ambiguous characters and stories. For my tastes, let me have a clear-cut line of good vs. evil. I hope you enjoy it.

Richard J. Gausselin’s How the Grandmas and Grandpas Saved Christmas

I received this book courtesy of Mr. Gausselin, in the spirit of a fair and honest review.

Overview: It’s the final push for Santa’s toy rush in preparation for the Christmas Eve delivery date. Unfortunately, the elvish workforce has managed to put themselves out of commission. Will this be a failed Christmas? Not if Santa can help it. And he has some devoted help as well.

Story Telling: This is a combination book. There are more illustrations than is included in a more advanced book, but more words than is normal for most picture books.

Artwork: The illustrations aren’t too cartoon-y, nor too serious. Ms. Downing hit the balance point pretty well for most ages.

Likes: Santa was determined to make Christmas perfect for the children. And we get to see some good problem solving skills. I enjoyed the way that the grandparents were portrayed.

Favorite Character: I love Christmas, but I have to pick someone other than Santa. Let’s see…Eddie was pretty cool.

Favorite Quote: It’s Santa’s golden rule: “Toys are to be made with hands and heart.”

Favorite Scene: There were two. The first was seeing the snowball game. The second was when the grandmas and grandpas showed up.

Conclusion: This is a terrific addition to any Christmas tradition. It’s already made my library. Also, it may even convince your little elves to not disregard the advice of their elders.

Roe De Pinto’s The Adventures of Zealy and Whubba: A New Life Begins

I received this book courtesy of Mrs. De Pinto for the pleasure of a fair and honest review.

Overview: A new life has begun by the sea. Zealy the seal is learning about the world around here. Shall we join her? And who is Whubba?

Story Telling: This is the beginning of a bedtime series.

Artwork: this is a nice combination of realism and cuteness.

Likes: The story fits as a bedtime story. The pace is soothing and there isn’t too much excitement.

Favorite Character: Whubba.

Favorite Quote: “Whubba watched over Zealy day and night, always staying nearby.”

Favorite Scene: Whubba and Zealy’s first meeting was cute.

Conclusion: This is a peaceful story. Enjoy this path to the sea of dreams with your ‘pups.’

Dean Koontz’s The Face

Overview: Ethan Truman has been given a major puzzle to figure out. After all, he is well suited to puzzles. Ethan is a former homicide detective. A chief-of-security gig shouldn’t require this kind of puzzle-solving, even if his employer is one of the most famous actors in Hollywood. Who sent Channing Manheim such weird gift boxes? Is there any special meaning to the contents? And why is Ethan having such odd premonitions?

Story Telling: This book might have taken place during the Christmas season, but it’s spooky.

Likes: Ethan and Hannah held some of the strongest love that I have seen in novels. And the best part is that Ethan wasn’t belittled for his devotion.

Hazard Yancy is, I guess, Mr. Koontz’s version of Harry Bosch. He’s bigger an has the same mission-orientation thinking, though he does seem to be a bigger lead-magnet.

Fric is a pretty mellow child. He is also lucky enough to have Mrs. McBee and Ethan around.

Dunny made a hard decision, but with the right heart.

Dislikes: Corky is the biggest educated idiot that I have ever run across. No dummy, the individual doesn’t decide what words mean. There has to be some order, or else nobody will be happy. Not even the anarchists. In my experience, anarchists want to be free from the law, but others have to live under it.

Manheim, AKA: Ghost Dad, couldn’t see past himself. He even denied his son the magic of Christmas, because Manheim knew that he wasn’t the best father. Speaking of Fric’s family, his mother wasn’t any better. Some might even say that she was worse.

Favorite Character: Maxwell Dalton had such a strong sense of willpower. The coolest thing is that Corky never knew that he had lost.

Favorite Quote: ““He’s a good man,” Rachel said, as he expected she would. “And like all good people in a dark world, of course he has enemies.””

Favorite Scene: There were a couple of real good scenes. One is when Hazard is considering the idea that his Granny Rose knows what she’s talking about. The other is when Maxwell Dalton is found. The last is when Ethan gets fifty-six messages from the other side.

Conclusion: This whole story seems to have come from Jesus’ explanation of the greatest love mankind is capable of. it’s a terrific book. Enjoy it.