David Tiefenthaler’s O.K. Is Great

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

Overview: Otis Kalshwonkee, better known to those around him as O.K., is positive that he is doomed to a life of mediocrity based solely on his initials. He is on his brother’s baseball team, and his sister seems to be a music whiz. Now, at a new school O.K. has a shot at greatness. Can Otis find out what comes naturally to him? Or will he be stuck as just O.K.?

Story Telling: This is a middle grade chapter book. We follow O.K. from his direct point-of-view.

Likes: Mr. Tiefenthaler has written a book that admits that a natural talent isn’t enough. O.K. is a natural runner, but he still has to work to go for the Board of Beasts in gym class.

O.K.’s parents pushed him in the right way. They waited for him to show some initiative, then aided him in his quest. Even his attempts at sports were encouraged.

It was good to find a book where the parents wanted the children to have a pet.

Dislikes: What is wrong with letting the dog go in the backyard? Trust me, the dog will get plenty of exercise. You only have to worry if you have a Houdini on your hands.

Both Mrs. Nealy and Mr. Gloatster bothered me. They both seemed to be power-hungry. I mean, what’s the problem with letting somebody go to the bathroom?

Favorite Character: Ella is pretty good. Then again, I’m a bookworm myself.

Favorite Quote: Well, we need to spread this quote around. Not just the young’uns need it. “Besides, if you try hard at something, and you end up being average, that is okay. If you are just okay at something because you didn’t try hard, then that’s not okay.”

Favorite Scene: The best part was when Otis and family were deciding on a name for Sausage Link. By the way, check your fence lines Otis.

Conclusion: This is a good book, though I think that it’ll have a bigger attraction to your sons than your daughters.

Michael Connelly’s The Concrete Blonde-Harry Bosch 3

Overview: After four years of living in Hollywood Division, Harry is facing the widow of the alleged Dollmaker in court. Deborah Church has hired a big time civil rights attorney, Honey Chandler, and they are filing a wrongful death suit against both Harry Bosch and the City of Los Angeles. If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a new letter from somebody calling himself “The Dollmaker.” Did Harry shoot the wrong guy? The evidence found at the scene doesn’t agree with that one. So the question becomes: is it a copycat, or was the Dollmaker a team?

Story Telling: What exactly do you call a police procedural crossed with a legal thriller? ‘Cause that’s what we have here.

Likes: Harry had a lot of support this time around, at least from the police force.

Irving mellowed out by this time around. He still tries to protect the force though.

Jerry was put in a very bad position. He tried to help Harry the best that he could.

Dislikes: Honey Chandler was a piece of work. Don’t get me wrong, she reminds me of Elias (the victim from Angel’s Flight). It was during her closing argument that my problems with her sharpened into view. I don’t care who you are, there is no reason to claim that it is your prestige or wealth that dictates how much your life is worth. After all, Chandler implied strongly that the prostitutes that Church killed didn’t deserve as strong of a case brought against their killer as a working woman or a mother would. It was when she referred to what section of society Harry Bosch related to the best. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only a handful who’ve returned from the dead. In my opinion, she overstepped her bounds in this life. Prostitute, lawyer, stay-at-home mom, a murder is a murder and even a prostitute’s murderer ought to be brought to justice. Depending on your view, that’s what happened when Bosch ran across the original Dollmaker.

Plus, the trial was little more than a dog and pony show. When even your lawyer thinks you are guilty, getting a fair trial is going to be difficult.

Favorite Character: Dr. Locke, for the most part, was a decent guy, if not a little gung-ho about proving the worth of his field. He was pretty good at helping out the department to find the killer.

Favorite Quote: As much as I think that Judge Keyes shouldn’t have been presiding over the trial, I agree with a statement he made during the opening arguments. “Words are beautiful and ugly all on their own. Let them stand for themselves.”

Favorite Scene: Dr. Locke gives us this scene. It was when he met Jerry. I can’t think of a better way an innocent man should handle the situation.

Conclusion: This is a terrific story. Irving really started to thaw towards Harry here.

Michael Connelly’s The Black Ice-Harry Bosch 2

Overview: Harry is on call this Christmas season. Then, he finds out that RHD, his former division, has moved in on a shooting in Hollywood Division’s precinct. Now, that’s not fair. Harry should have been called first. Well, the fact that the scene looks like a cop’s suicide might have something to with who ended up with the call. It’s all good. Harry has plenty of cases to keep him busy. Especially now since he has just inherited another detective’s caseload. If he solves two cases, it might get Pounds off of his back, at least for a little while.

Story Telling: The Bosch novels are police procedurals, and this one is no exception.

Likes: Harry is doing much better after his stint in “The Black Echo.” He just wants to solve the cases he has caught.

Edgar is still looking to make the deal. And Sylvia gave Harry a reason to cling to hope.

Dislikes: Calexico Moore had a lot of reasons to be angry. I think he might have been better towards the wrong person. No relationship can last when it’s built upon a lie.

We spent a lot of time in Mexico. Zorillo controlled too much of the town. This is the consequences when money does your talking for you.

Favorite Character: The only likeable person in this story was Harry. I think that he was just rubbing everyone the wrong way, or maybe it’s the other way around.

Favorite Quote: Irving shows himself to be the man that we get to know later. “The only thing that I fear are people without a conscience. Who act without thinking their actions through. I don’t think your are like that.”

Favorite Scene: The best part for me was when Harry had his conversation with Cal’s aunt.

Conclusion: Reader beware. If you are a member of any of the various humane societies, then you might want to avoid a small section of this novel. It concerns a bullfight. This is a good novel, it’s that I just don’t care much for drug related stories.

Michael Connelly’s The Black Echo-Harry Bosch 1

Overview: Harry Bosch is getting used to a new division, and a new partner. His new division is affectionately nicknamed “The Sewer,” and his new partner ha dreams of being real estate royalty. Everything seems to be coming along into a smooth run. Now all Harry has to do is to figure out how to get his new partner to focus more of police work than his sideline job. Then, he gets a call out to a crime scene that brings back some bad memories. And then the Feds get involved….

Story Telling: This is the first book of the Harry Bosch series. So we see the close third person procedural.

Likes: Well, we get to see how Harry met Eleanor. One of the best scenes, though was Harry’s reaction to Jerry’s sideline job.

Dislikes: Irving was a bit of a jerk in this book. He seemed to be a bit paranoid. Yes, he wanted to protect the department, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you fire someone who doesn’t toe the line.

Like I said earlier, Eleanor makes her debut here as well. Her attitude just seems to stink.

Officers Lewis and Clarke were a little too gung-ho about getting Bosch. By the way guys, if you’re following someone, assume that they know.

Favorite Character: Martin B. Avery III wanted to do the right thing by both his clients as well as the police.

Favorite Quote: Bosch is so mean. Especially to Lt. Pounds. “Since the frequency of the fouling had increased with the re-assignment of Bosch from Parker Center to Hollywood division, Ninety-eight Pounds was convinced that Bosch was the major offender. And he was right, but he had never caught Bosch in the act.”

Favorite Scene: Lewis and Clarke are just too funny. It’s during part of their surveillance on Bosch, when they insult a security guard. That was a hard lesson for them to learn.

Conclusion: You can see where Harry’s sense of justice comes from. But let’s face it, he was such a jerk in this book.

John Sandford’s Easy Prey-Lucas Davenport 11

Overview: Lucas has been called out to a scene of a high profile murder, higher profile than most in his neck of the woods. A high price model has been murdered at a movers and shakers party–artsy style. Then, they find another body. Now, Lucas and the rest of the police force have to track down a killer, before the rest of the party guests wind up in their eternal rests.

Story Telling: This series seems to be a thrilling mystery. Roll down the window, you’re going for a ride.

Likes: Elle is back, can you say that when you read a prequel? She shows that Lucas’s cases aren’t the only fun thing for her. She enjoys meddling-by-invitation to ensure his future happiness.

Marcy tried to give Lucas advice about his meeting with Catrin.

Dislikes: I’m not so upset about starting this series in the middle anymore. What was Lucas trying to be, a gigolo?

Catrin needs to understand something. It’s not her husband’s fault that she hasn’t accomplished her dreams. For starters, she has to have a dream. And then, she would be the one who succeeded or failed. She reminds me of those who say that they don’t have time to do what they want, but then spends hours on social media sites. Put the blame where it belongs. I just didn’t like her.

Oh! Speaking of putting the blame where it belongs, Ted: video games, the internet, riches, magazines, nor television, is a sin. Things cannot sin. And you have no right to condemn vast swatches of the population, just because you don’t like how they spend their money.

While we’re on the biblical route, Jael, Amnon was Solomon’s half-brother, not his son.

The end of mystery seemed to be a cheat. Perhaps more clues should have been hidden earlier.

Favorite Character: It’s a tie between Marcy and Elle. They both gave Lucas the best they had.

Favorite Quote: I just love how some people react when they aren’t supposed to be cursing. “…sorry darlin’–I’m eating breakfast with my granddaughter.” Randall Towson

Favorite Scene: The best part was when Lucas realized that Weather was wearing a gift he had given her.

Conclusion: I don’t think that I’ll go any earlier in this series. I prefer the older more mature Lucas Davenport.

Ron Spence’s The Amazing Faith of Texas-Common Ground on Higher Ground

Overview: Mr. Spence believes that Texas is a beautiful place. Considering that he is part of the team that coined two of our more famous phrases, this shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Let’s follow him on his journey to check out the signs of faith in Texas.

Story Telling: This seems to be a coffee table book. It’s complete with short articles and vibrant pictures.

Likes: Jeez. Leave it to us to find all of these easier ways to add another church or other building of faith. Oh? The only building around is an old convenience store? That’ll work.

Also, many of the Texans here seemed to live out the sermons Jesus gave concerning the people interactions angle of faith.

Dislikes: It’s more of a source of confusion really. How can two people claim to worship the same God, when their respective holy books seem to contradict each other?

Favorite Story: There were three stories here that shows some of the greatness people can achieve. Reva’s, Bonnie’s, Judy and Jerry’s stories were amazing.

Favorite Quote: You can call it ego if you want to, I call it perfect. “We Texans never give up. Neither does God. Could it be that God is a Texan?”

Conclusion: This is a good book for those who are fond of Texas, or those who like the architecture of the churches.

Annika Dunklee and Lori Joy Smith’s Me too

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

Overview: Annie has a best friend from Sweden named Lillemor. They have so much in common. Life can’t get any better, until the new girl moves to town. Lilianne and Lillemor have a lot in common too. Is Annie losing her best friend.

Story Telling: Aw. This is cute. The language is both simple and thought-provoking. Plus the illustrations are cute.

Likes: When it comes to foreign words, Ms. Dunklee included the translations right on the same page with one exception.

Favorite Character: Now how can I choose between those three little girls?

Favorite Quote: When the girls are talking about their other languages. “Okay, so Annie made hers up, but she is pretty sure it still counts.”

Favorite Scene: The whole book was kind of cute. I liked it all.

Conclusion: This is a good story, one the whole family can enjoy during story time. So show your child that making a new friend doesn’t have to end an old friendship.

Steven F. Freeman’s The Evolution of Evil-The Blackwell Files 6

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

Overview: Dr. Jan Summit, wife of Senator Jackson, has disappeared off of the face of the earth. She was last seen in the Galapagos Islands doing research for a cure to Alzheimer’s Disease. Now NSA agent Vega needs an expert cryptologist to decrypt Dr. Summit’s files in hopes of finding out why someone might take her captive. Who does he know that fits that description? I hope Alton and Mallory are ready for a trip near the equator.

Story Telling: This is more of a whodunnit than some to the last installments of the Blackwell Files. Also, murder isn’t center stage on this one.

Likes: The idea of Alton and Mallory working with a team was a good one. Let’s face it, as good as they are at solving mysteries alone, they would be investigated pretty fast if they kept stumbling into murder investigation.

Dislikes: It may just be all of the focus on Dr. Summit’s work and how that would effect the pharmaceutical companies, but this book didn’t seem to flow like the others in this series.

Mr. Shoemaker is an idiot. I don’t think he realizes how his anger at his father makes him easy to control. Let’s face it, most of his problems can be summed up by: Daddy got remarried. By the way, can we convince him to forgo all medication? You know, for the good of the planet.

Favorite Character: Oh. It’s the Gooch. There’s nothing like a good old boy, when you need help in a search and rescue mission. I’d bet he’s southern.

Favorite Quote: The Gooch, when the team notices the gunk on the door. “I was three-time tri-state angling champion before my stint in the Marines. I know my bass from my trout. And I’m telling you I don’t think that’s a fresh-water fish.” See, southern, and he hunts too.

Favorite Scene: I liked it when The Gooch lead the tracking team after the would be intruders.

Conclusion: This one may have started out slow, but we sped up at the end. Maybe some of the suspects in the next book won’t have as much ‘dirty laundry’ in the big reveal.

Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived in…China!

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

Overview: Well, it’s time to visit another country, at least the most cost-efficient way. This time we’re heading for China.

Likes: If there has ever been a time for the pronunciation key in Mrs. Roman’s work, this was definitely the country for it.

The basic words for familiarity for your child, are still here.

Dislikes: Chinese seems to be fairly difficult. And that’s before we get into the regional specific words. It got to be a little confusing.

Conclusion: This is a fascinating addition. Mrs. Roman’s “Cultures Around the World” series. Enjoy the trip.

Colonial Comics – New England 1620-1750 Edited by Jason Rodriguez

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

Overview: Mr. Rodriguez has collected a group of comic book artists and writers who were interested in telling historical stories from the early periods of American colonization.

Story Telling: We have a range of comic strip styles ranging from the more realistic to the more, um, interesting art forms.

Likes: For the most part, these stories were unbiased. This is how history should be seen. We weren’t there, so the best we can do is discuss the policies at the time, without judgment since we don’t know the circumstances.

Dislikes: There was a problem for me at the end of “The Press’s Widow-Elizebeth Glover.” One of the final frames brings up the idea of the wage gap between men and women. Can we use some common sense here? If a company can hire a woman for a fraction of what they would have to pay a man, wouldn’t they keep the costs down by hiring more women? If there is a wage gap then why are women making up to half of the work force? Shouldn’t they be making up more? Yes, Ms. Swyler was trying to compare the way women handled property then and now, it’s just the job aspect didn’t seem to fit.

Favorite Story: I rather enjoyed “This Indian Work.”

Conclusion: It’s pretty hard to find unbiased history books. With very few exceptions, this book pulled it off. Bring this one into your child’s library. Just be ready for the questions, as some of this history isn’t popular anymore.