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

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

Overview: Let’s learn about the country that is famous for pasta, wine, the Coliseum, and the current seat of power for the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Story Telling: We have and educational book here. I would advise this one for eight-year-olds.

Artwork: The illustrations are still cute and more realistic than cartoon-ish.

Likes: Some of the information is fascinating.

Mrs. Roman still keeps her pronunciation keys with these travel-inspired books.

Dislikes: I get that most children can pronounce spaghetti, but does that mean that we have to pick the Italian words based on their difficulties?

Favorite Character and Quote: It’s difficult to find these in educational works of this size. The spoiling effect can be stumbled upon too easily. This time, I’m taking a pass.

Favorite Scene: I liked the emphasis on family in this one.

Conclusion: This book has fascinating information. But it is one of the more complicated additions to the series. Be ready for some questions when you share this one with your ‘travelers.’

Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child’s Crimson Shore-Pendergast 15

Overview: It’s been four months since the events of “Blue Labyrinth.” Pendergast, is still recuperating, when he gets an intriguing offer. Percival Lake, a prominent sculptor, has had a horrible break-in at his lighthouse home. And what did the thieves abscond with? Oh, around $150,000 in wine. For an extremely rare bottle of wine, Pendergast is quite willing to turn his recuperating period into a working vacation.

Story Telling: We have another thriller novel courtesy of Mr. Preston and Mr. Child. Please be advised: while I strive to avoid spoilers in my reviews, be sure you’ve read this series through “The Book of the Dead.” Key plot points of that book will be discussed here.

Likes: Proctor is still doing what he can for Pendergast.

The area of Exmouth seemed like a pretty spot.

Believe it or not, I felt sorry for Chief Mourdock. It seemed like he was being set up to look foolish.

Dislikes: Now we’re going to hit spoiler-territory. For starters, while Pendergast has been known to use trickery, and other magician’s tricks, he has never–to my knowledge–outright lied to anyone, until now. He wasn’t up to his usual standards either.

Constance Green is a selfish little thing. Everything seemed to revolve around her feelings. Maybe she ought to remember what, exactly, happened to the last men who earned her ire.

Now this is really hard to say without spoiling the story. But, how did Diogenes come back? He fell, with help admittedly, into an active–I repeat A-C-T-I-V-E–volcano. Is he supposed to be god? If so, he falls far short of the mark.

Favorite Character: I’m going to go with Chief Mourdock. He was literally in over his head.

Favorite Quote: This actually fit’s the book. “You’ll have to excuse my associate,…. She has a rather mordant sense of humor.”

Favorite Scene: I loved the cooking lesson. It was the best part of the book.

Conclusion: All of the problems and quite a few incongruities in the story line, conspired to make this book one of the worse books in the Pendergast series. It left too many questions without answers for my tastes.

Steven F. Freeman’s Tears of God-The Blackwell Files 7

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

Overview: Alton and Mallory Blackwell are at a party when they stumble on a near improbable theory. Cutter Wilson didn’t die of natural causes. After setting up a meeting, their informant dies of decidedly unnatural means. Can Alton and Mallory figure out what’s going on? Good thing they have a team of investigators on their side to do so.

Story Telling: This series is known for mysteries, and this one is no exception. It is a little more suspenseful than some of the others.

Likes: We get to see David and Mastana again.

Also, Alton and Mallory are still devoted to each other.

Dislikes: Okay, I admit it. The Constitution and other Founding Documents are very important to me. Yes, the antagonist was an evil piece of work. But, do we also skirt the rules of investigation to stop him? By what right did Alton use his virus? What was the reason to infect a pharmaceutical company’s computer system? Where were the warrants for the wire-taps? And let’s not even consider breaking and entering. There seemed to be no limits for Alton. This was quite disturbing for me.

Not only that, but Mallory qualifies as a ‘conflict of interest,’ doesn’t she? I mean, Cutter Wilson was her father, so why were the Blackwells even on this case? With their inclusion, it appears more like an assassination than an investigation.

I’m not so sure why Mastana was on this case, either. Who takes a minor on an investigatory mission?

Silva was another problem. I don’t know why some women decry misogyny, and then use their body’s to get what they want. Simply put, if you don’t want to be treated like a sexual object, don’t dress, talk, or act like one.

Favorite Character: I have to go with Keven. He wanted to do the right thing.

Favorite Quote: Really, I don’t have one this time.

Favorite Scene: The only good scene was when David admitted to the consequences of bringing Mastana along.

Conclusion: I’m sad to say that this book was a big downer for me. Even though the team wasn’t in America, they were still American. They were honor-bound to uphold the Constitution. Not only did they not uphold the Constitution, but they didn’t even have a problem with breaking any of the Commandments. Once the good guys, the protagonists, the heroes, start breaking the rules, they are no longer good guys, and evil wins. That’s my opinion anyway.

Pamela Troutman’s Disappearing Honeymooner

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

Overview: Len Townsend is looking forward to a well-deserved vacation. Or he was, until Ellie Simpson boards his boat. It turns out that she is on her honeymoon. The bad news is that her husband has taken off. Is it cold feet? Or could it be something far worse?

Story Telling: We get a private detective mystery in first-person perspective. It’s not really a light-hearted read, nor is it dark enough to be a noir novel.

Likes: The last few times that I’ve read a novel with smokers in it, the smoker was either demonized or treated like an idiot. Imagine my surprise when Walter was treated like a cop, a cop who smokes yet still a cop. He was shown to be just as intelligent as Len, if not more cynical.

Len is a good private detective. It’s as if he put his heart into his work.

Dislikes: Ellie’s parents, Charles and Susan Morgan, didn’t do her any favors. Let me give you a hint. If you get hospitalized over depression and other behavioral problems, it isn’t run of the mill depression.

Johnny’s family was really messed up. I suggest both the Golden Rule, and The Ten Commandments for an infusion of morals.

Favorite Character: I believe it would be Walter this time around.

Favorite Quote: I like how Len’s attitude showed here. “Smiles become you, Ellie. I’m glad to see you wearing one.”

Favorite Scene: Well, Len’s walk with ‘Barney’ would be it. Too bad Barney didn’t have such a lucky day.

Conclusion: This was a decent mystery for the private detective fan. Enjoy.

Michael Phillip Cash’s Risen-The Battle For Darracia 3

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

Overview: Lothen is in for a surprise. His conquest of Darracia isn’t going as smoothly as he would like. Nobody seems to want to join his cult of Geva. The capitol is sinking to the earth. And now there are rumors of an uprising. Can Lothen keep Darracia? Or will he learn how weak his goddess really is?

Story Telling: And now we get to the conclusion of “The Battle of Darracia.” The final book of a trilogy, and the chance to see if Mr. Cash wrote one of the best. After all, these books lean toward a lot of action, and the best ones have a lot of hope.

Likes: V’sair showed his strength in leadership. Especially, since the last book ended with his apparent demise.

Zayden didn’t let his weakness of body destroy his spirit. And that’s says a lot about him.

Bobbien and Tulani kept their heads in a real bad situation.

Reminda had a lot of help. And if you think about it, most if not all of the inhabitants of Darracia kept their hope.

Dislikes: Naje just fell even further in my opinion. Sex doesn’t lead to power, nor does it lead to happiness either. You have to find that seed in yourself, and nurture it.

Seren played a dangerous game. Betrayal isn’t the best way to get ahead in life. That’s a sword that more often cuts the wielder.

Favorite Character: I really can’t just pick one this time. Pretty much any inhabitant of Darracia, who was willing to fight for his or her freedom, is my favorite character.

Favorite Quote: There isn’t a lot that I can say about this quote. “They bounced…smothering the blackness with light.”

Favorite Scene: The best part was when Staf Nuen realized and repented of his mistakes.

Conclusion: This was a great ending of a great trilogy. Even fantasy fans can enjoy the books. Especially, after you get past the first one.

Remy Agee’s Jacksonjohnhenry and The Too Tall Trees

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

Overview: Jacksonjohnhenry is an adventurous little boy. He has been a prate, as well as an explorer. What will happen when he sees the too tall trees?

Story Telling: We get a cute little rhyming book.

Artwork: Ms. Victoria uses a water-color artwork for the illustrations.

Likes: The rhymes were fun. And Jacksonjohnhenry is quite adventurous.

Dislikes: My only problem is that this book could easily have been an interactive book if the blank pages held some encouragement to show a child’s imaginings.

Conclusion: This is a terrific story. Enjoy it with your adventurer.

Michael Phillip Cash’s Collision-The Battle For Darracia 2

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

Overview: V’sair is due for his coronation, yet he doesn’t believe the time is right. His choices for Queen and Grand Mestor are preoccupied to say the least. Unfortunately for him and his people, another uncle–this time from his mother’s side–wants Darracia for his new home. Can V’sair and the Elements stand against Lothen and his goddess Geva?

Story Telling: We have the middle of a science-fiction trilogy. This part of a trilogy is always hard to get right. They are the darkest of the three books. Yet if you get them too dark, then no one wants to continue the story.

Likes: The spirit of this book is pretty good. You can easily feel for the young king.

Bobbien is back with her care of all creatures. Especially, when Zayden needs her help the most.

Reminda is much different from her brother.

Dislikes: Where to start? Lothen doesn’t seem to understand that true power does not come from destruction.

Naje ruined herself, and she doesn’t even see it. She sold her soul for the appearance of power.

And Seren is a weird guy. Who really wants to marry someone who has already given his or her heart away?

Favorite Character: It’s a tie between Reminda, Bobbien, and Denita.

Favorite Quote: Reminda gives us it again. “You have to give everything time.”

Favorite Scene: The best part for me was when Reminda got to talk to Drakko again.

Conclusion: I found that this book kept a good balance of hope and the darker parts of a trilogy. Well done Mr. Cash. I hope the last is just as strong.

Michael Phillip Cash’s Schism-The Battle For Darracia 1

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

Overview: On the planet Darracia there is a storm brewing. The Darracians are the ruling class, with the Quyroos seeming to be the serving class. The current king has long ago committed a trespass against the Darracian way. He married a Plantan woman. Their son, V’sair, is partially the cause for the stirrings of a civil war. Will V’sair fall due to his own insecurities? Or will he gain the aide of the Elements to save his family?

Story Telling: Well, we have come from Urban Fantasy, through horror, and to a science-fiction tale from Mr. Cash.

Likes: V’sair is the premier Doubting Thomas. He understands the Doctriness, yet he doesn’t feel them down in his gut like the rest of the Darracians do. But he doesn’t deny the ideas when he witnesses them.

Reminda and Drakko truly had big plans. I hope that their plans come to fruition.

Zayden didn’t seem to hold any animosity against his half-breed little brother. He showed how much he is willing to give for him.

Dislikes: Staf’s attitude left much to be desired.

Favorite Character: It would be Reminda.

Favorite Quote: Reminda to Drakko: “Sometimes we must let nature do what it must.…It is not easy , but we must let him find himself.”

Favorite Scene: I enjoyed the part when V’sair learns that maybe the sacred texts might have been misinterpreted.

Conclusion: This is a good start to the trilogy. I hope Mr. Cash manages to keep up the threads through the next two books.

Agatha Christie’s Nemesis-Jane Marple 12

Overview: Jane Marple has just receive3d some rather surprising news. Mr. Rafiel, from “A Caribbean Mystery,” has died, and left a provision for Miss. Marple in his will. He has proposed a game, of sorts. If Miss Marple can find out what crime as committed, and who did it, she will earn 20,000 pounds. It sounds like fun. The first stop is a garden tour….

Story Telling: Once again, we have a British estate/cozy mystery. Jane Marple is up to her old tricks, this time it’s for profit.

Likes: Mr. Rafiel really took care of Miss Marple. His respect for her abilities didn’t blind him to her weaknesses.

This book asks a couple of very serious, and sensitive, questions. First can a girl legally claim rape if she has regrets, or her parents disapprove of the younger couple’s actions? And do you condemn a con-artist for murder based on his past actions? Ms. Christie’s answers to these questions are not the ones that most modern women want to hear. I, personally, agree with her conclusions, though not everyone will.

Dislikes: Mr. Rafiel’s lawyers were a little too pushy for my tastes.

Favorite Character: Miss Cooke was a cool little mystery for us to figure out.

Favorite Quote: Good old Miss Marple. I love how she put it. ““Any coincidence,” said Miss Marple to herself, “is always worth noticing. You can throw it away later if it is only a coincidence.””

Favorite Scene: I enjoyed the talks Miss Marple had with Elizebeth Temple and Archdeacon Brabazon.

Conclusion: This was a terrific story. Miss Marple has a way of seeking out justice.

Dean Koontz’s Every Day’s a Holiday-Amusing Rhymes for Happy Times

Overview: And now, back to poems. This time the poems are tied to a single theme. Mr. Koontz has just about every holiday celebrated, as well as a few spontaneous additions.

Story Telling: We just get to see a bunch of little rhymes.

Artwork: Mr. Parks kept with the penciled illustrations. This time the game is played with toads.

Favorite Poems: Both “Memorial Day” and “Christmas Day” were beautiful. “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day” was a good reminder. And “Me Day” was just fun.

Conclusion: Another great book. And like before, I didn’t find all of the toads.