Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas-Illustrated by Becky Kelly

Overview: How can you showcase one of the most renowned Christmas tales? Mrs. Kelly is quite interested in showing us.

Story Telling: This is the epic poem written by Mr. Moore in 1822. I’m pretty sure every one knows it well.

Artwork: Mrs. Kelly uses a watercolor style that, in my opinion, brings life to the poem.

Likes: Both the illustrations and the poem seem to work in tandem in a perfect way.

Conclusion: This is a perfect story for the season. Enjoy it with your little elves.

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Kevin Moore’s Christmas Stories-7 Original Short Stories

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

Overview: Can you ever get too much of Christmas? That’s a rhetorical question. Mr. Moore has offered us a collection dedicated to the season. Do they work?

Story Telling: We have a single author anthology this time around. Also, we have Christmas stories.

Dislikes: Some of these stories seem to have been cut short, no pun intended. The ideas are good, the spirit is good, but the stories, for the most part, are too short to merge the idea and the spirit comfortably.

Likes: Like I said, the spirit behind the stories is good, and some of them come real close to succeeding.

Favorite Story: That would be “The Santa Suit.”

Conclusion: This is a good book. Mr. Moore’s next novel ought to be much stronger. Enjoy these stories, and remember the season.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle-Sherlock Holmes 7

Overview: Dr. Watson has come to check on his old friend. Let it not be said that Sherlock Holmes cannot find something to occupy his mind. What kind of mystery can a lost hat and a goose cause?

Story Telling: Most of us today are too used to murder being the crime in a mystery novel. Yeah, it’s the easiest crime to catch your audience’s attention, but it’s not the only crime out there.

Dislikes: What is it with gangs? A bunch of children/teens gather together, and, it seems, to take on the weakest members of society. Does that say something about them?

Likes: Sherlock doesn’t talk down to his audience. He reminds me of someone who just has to explain how he came by his conclusions. That, and he seems to be a stickler for details, some of which most people would just glance over.

Favorite Character: It’s Dr. Watson. Through you won’t often catch a doctor like him today.

Favorite Scene: It was when Mr. Baker finally got his goose and hat again.

Conclusion: This was a fun book. Enjoy it with your family. After all it is a clean read.

Henry Hoffman’s On a Midnight Clear

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

Overview: Adam Fraley just wants to meet up with a friend for the holidays. But, getting lost on Christmas Eve was not part of the plan. Neither was finding a young girl alone at a cabin. Why is she alone? And has Adam stepped into a mess bigger than he can handle?

Story Telling: This is a mystery novella set during the happiest time of the year.

Likes: This was a first in many cases. The mystery wasn’t so much focused on murder as it was a different case. And Mr. Hoffman’s beliefs on adoption were a relief.

Adam has a strong sense of duty. And Noelle’s mother has a good idea about Christmas.

Favorite Character: It’s a toss up between Adam Fraley and Tamra Fugit.

Favorite Quote: Here you go. “It doesn’t have any name on it. My mom says you should always keep a spare present in case someone shows up that you weren’t expecting.”

Conclusion: This was a terrific story. Though this story might be better considered a side dish, rather than a main meal. Enjoy it when you have a few minutes this Christmas Season.

Kenneth Kirkeby’s Red Stick Two

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

Overview: The year is now 1986, and Virgil’s life has been domesticated–so to speak. He has a family, a ranch to call his own, and friends that he can lean on. So, what could possess him to return to work a job for his former CIA handler? Well: one missing man, one group of Maoists, and the fact that it just sounds exciting.

Story Telling: We have more of a political thriller with this one.

Dislikes: We still have the accents written out. That is never fun to read, either out loud or quietly. Also, Levkovitch asked Virgil to do the job in the wrong way. Once you’re married, you lose, or highly limit, the option to make ten second decisions for business purposes. Especially if those decisions involve potential death.

Let’s not think about all the conversations held in Spanish without the courtesy of a translation.

Likes: It was pretty cool to see how Virgil and Michelle chose to honor Tom Jay.

The relationship…er…banter might be a better word…between Creole and Virgil was fun.

And it is always good to see some people who are willing to fight for their rights.

Favorite Character: It’s Kurt Harris this time.

Favorite Quote: There’s not really one this time around.

Favorite Scene: It’s when Virgil has his conversations with Michelle.

Conclusion: While I prefer “Red Stick One”, this is a decent novel. Especially if the reader enjoys grittier novels. So consider the reader’s sensibilities first, then start this novel.

David Willis McCullough’s Great Detectives-A Century of the Best Mysteries From England and America.

Overview: The detective genre has been a–sometimes guilty–pleasure for many people throughout the ages. So how does one find a new author when his/her mainstays are all out of new material? Anthologies seem to work quite well. The question then becomes: what do we have to look forward to in this book?

Story Telling: In this short story collection we have samples from Agatha Christie to Raymond Chandler, and two novels. One from Ross McDonald and the other by Ruth Rendell.

Dislikes: There were only two stories that I hated in this collection. Those were Israel Zangwill’s “The Big Bow Mystery”, and Raymond Chandler’s “Trouble is My Business.” Mr. Zangwill’s story was too progressive in ideology for my tastes. And Mr. Chandler was too nihilistic.

Likes: Several of these stories acted as a good advertisement for their authors.

Favorite Stories: One of my favorites was Donald E. Westlake’s “Never Shake a Family Tree.” Though, Ray Bradbury’s “Yesterday I lived” and Ed McBain’s “Sadie When She Died” came really close to winning it as well.

Conclusion: While I didn’t enjoy Agatha Christie’s detective in this collection as much as Miss Marple, this was still a great book. Pick it up for you mystery fan. Or enjoy it yourself.

Anna Mogileva & Paula Berinstein’s Amanda Lester and the Pink Sugar Conspiracy Coloring Book

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

Overview: Disclaimer: I have never read this series. That being said, coloring books never go out of style. How does this one measure up?

Story Telling: It’s a coloring book, but one that goes along with a young adult novel by the same name.

Dislikes: The blurb claims that these pages are good for markers. A word of warning, have a scratch sheet of paper between the pages first.

Likes: The artwork is well done. And the scenes are interesting. I enjoyed both of them.

Conclusion: This is a good coloring book, especially if you use colored pencils instead of markers.

Lesley Bolton’s The Complete Book of Baby Names-100,001+ Best Baby Names

Overview: Are baby name dictionaries just for aspiring parents? I’d say no, but I’m a bit biased. So, how does this one measure up for the parent-to-be, as well as the aspiring creator?

Story Telling: For the most part, this is a book of lists and a name dictionary. There is a history of the names, as well as other fascinating information, at the front, as well as a section for your own personal lists at the back.

Dislikes: My basic problem with this book came from the opening section, chapter four specifically. Ms. Bolton seemed to harp on the parents about the potential for bullying over the names. The thing is: a bully will find something as a weapon. If it’s not your name, it’ll be your attitude, your eyes, your nose, your ears, your clothes. A bully is a bully. And let’s face it, most parents don’t intentionally name their children with cruelty.

Likes: The dictionary aspect is well organized and separated by gender.

Conclusion: This is a pretty good reference, for whoever, or–depending on your genre–whatever, that you’re naming.