Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter’s The Monuments Men

Overview: Everyone has heard of the atrocities that Hitler set into action against the Jews of Europe. Much less known is the atrocities committed against the so-called undesirables such as the mentally impaired, homosexuals, the Romani, and, of course, enemies of the state. Even less known is the fact that Hitler fancied himself as an art aficionado. Needless to say, many of the countries that Germany invaded lost their pieces of cultural significance. This is the story of those who sought to return those pieces to their home countries.

Story Telling: This is more of a memoir style of historical book. We have a few letters, and notes from the war. But this isn’t a fast read.

Dislikes: Every time that I hear about Nazi Germany, the worse they seem to get. This is no exception.

Likes: We did handle the search for the artwork in the best way possible. At least, we didn’t value the artwork over people’s lives.

Favorite Scenes: That would be the letters home.

Conclusion: This is a fascinating read. Enjoy it for the educational purpose.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night

Overview: Mr. Hitchcock is better known for his movies such as “Psycho” and “The Birds.” But, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t enjoy a good story now and then. This book has a collection of suspenseful, bordering on horror, stories, novellas, and one novel, for our enjoyment.

Story Telling: This is an anthology work. But, take notice of the presenter. The stories will have some rather dark themes.

Dislikes: That would be ‘The Ash Tree.’ I’d tell you why, but that would spoil the story for you.

Likes: There were several good stories in this collection. Some of them involved rather karmic twists at times.

Favorite Stories: “A Cry from the Penthouse” and “The Iron Gates” were the best stories in my opinion.

Conclusion: If you don’t care much for Mr. Hitchcock’s film work, you might want to skip this book. But if you like twists and a horror bent to your suspenseful stories, give this collection a try.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Leonardo’s Notebooks

Overview: What better way is there to learn how to be an artist, than by learning from one of the old “masters”? Leonardo Da Vinci made his name during the Renaissance age. Now, granted, while we are four or five centuries past that time period, at least. Is there anything that he can teach the artists of this age?

Story Telling: These writings were put together by Mr. Da Vinci. Most were for his own remembrance, some were for his students, while others were for study, and some were to satisfy his curiosity. Needless to say, we can call this an artist’s memoir.

Dislikes: You have to bear in mind that Mr. Da Vinci lived at a time when he had to make his own art supplies. And he was left-handed as well. At that time, such a thing was seen as the sign of the devil. Hiding so much, leaves a sense of superiority…arrogance…I’m not sure what you would call it. It can be a turn-off, at the best of time.

Likes: Many of his tips are helpful. As well, the sketches show you how his mind worked.

Conclusion: If you are interested in biographical writings, or are just interested in art as a career path, try this book. You just might find some of the tips to be helpful.

Harlan Corben’s Live Wire-Myron Bolitar 10

Overview: Myron Bolitar is–technically speaking–a sports’ agent and a lawyer. This does not stop him from trying to solve some of his clients’ problems. Case in point: Suzze T, a former tennis champion and soon to be mother, needs Myron to find her husband. He just didn’t expect to see someone from his past while doing so.

Story Telling: We have a mystery with a semi-professional this time around.

Dislikes: What a bunch of liars! This whole story was one lie on top of another. These things only grow the more they are used.

And the ending kind of ruined the story for my tastes.

Likes: Big Cyndi is…colorful, to say the least. And she’s rather creative.

Myron does try to do the right thing. Too bad that it cost him so much.

Favorite Character: That would be Big Cyndi.

Favorite Quote: “The ugliest truth, a friend once told Myron, is still better than the prettiest of lies.” Too bad the story didn’t live up to that sentiment.

Favorite Scene: Big Cyndi showing off her sewing skills via the bridesmaid dresses will definitely stick with you.

Conclusion: The ride was fun for the most part. Maybe I should have caught up with the older novels first.

Inherit the Dead

Overview: Can twenty different authors manage to tell a seamless story? We are about to find out. You see, Perry Christos has been hired by an elderly woman. She wants to find her estranged daughter. It seems like a rather straight-forward case doesn’t it? But, where would the fun be in that?

Story Telling: This is a detective novel. In fact, the forward refers to it as a noir novel.

Dislikes: This book has some pretty dark spots. That probably comes from the noir aspect, and this was my introduction to the sub-genre. But really, did Perry’s wife have to treat him like that? She didn’t even wait for both sides of the story when he was accused of impropriety as an officer of the law.

Likes: The story runs smoothly. The authors’ individual voices didn’t even clue you in when there was a switch. You have to rely on the chapter headings to know who’s writing at any given time.

And Perry was able to work with just about anyone to get one more step further along in the case.

Favorite Character: Out of all of the novels that I’ve read, there aren’t many characters as honorable as Perry Christos. He just has a way of keeping his head in the game.

Favorite Scene: This one would be when Perry is watching his daughter’s play rehearsal.

Conclusion: This was a fun story. Enjoy the ride along with Perry. I’m not so sure about noir novels though.

Nancy Zieman’s Essential Sewing Guide-Sewing with Nancy 1

Overview: Are you a new sewist? Do you find the terms difficult to understand? Ms. Zieman understands the confusion that the new sewing enthusiast has. She believes that she can simplify the ideas for you. How will she manage it?

Story Telling: This is another how-to book. It’s one for the beginning sewist.

Dislikes: None. It’s a book for the beginning sewist, and I’m not ashamed to admit that’s where I stand with it.

Likes: This book includes various charts, grafts, tips and techniques designed to help you make the best items possible.

Conclusion: This might be helpful for those who wish to make their own clothing items.

Patricia Lanza’s Lasagna Garden-A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!

Overview: Do you have to own or borrow a tiller to have a nice garden? Can you garden in a small place, or do you need a more than a moderately sized yard? According to Mrs. Lanza, nope on the tiller, and just having any unused space will work for the first time gardener.

Story Telling: This is an educational book. This one is for the would be gardener.

Dislikes: This spot might be filled later. It has to be tested first.

Likes: The idea sounds like it might work. I don’t know about the weeds, but again this is something that has to be tried out first.

Conclusion: This might work. I’ll have to get back to you later though. Just remember that life can get in the way. Especially if I don’t update this post.

Mary Higgins Clark’s Daddy’s Little Girl

Overview: Twenty-three years ago, Andrea Cavanaugh was found murdered in the Westerfield garage. The Westerfields’ son was convicted. But, now that he is up for parole, his family is announcing his innocence to everyone in town. With a new witness coming forward, did the wrong man go down for the murder? Ellie, Andrea’s little sister, doesn’t believe so.

Story Telling: If you are looking for a mystery, you won’t find it here. Mrs. Clark is known as the “Queen of Suspense.” The “Queen of the mystery” is Miss Christie. While all mysteries will contain an element of suspense, not all suspense novels are mysteries.

Dislikes: Rob Westerfield was a spoiled, violent, arrogant brat. He thought that he didn’t need to suffer the consequences of his actions.

And Ellie seemed to be projecting her own self-blame onto others. Her dad was in a bad situation simply because very few marriages survive the death of a child. What was he supposed to do? Become an emotionless robot?

Likes: Teddy Cavanaugh was stubborn in a good way.

Many people were trying to get the truth out. Mrs. Hilmer was kind enough to offer a home to a friend in need.

Favorite Character: It would be Teddy and Ted Cavanaugh.

Favorite Quote: This one is perfect for the whole story. “There’s something else Dad told me that you should know. He said, ‘I’ve lost one little girl. I can’t lose another.’”

Favorite Scene: Can’t tell you. It would ruin the whole story for you.

Conclusion: This is a fun read, as long as you remember that it isn’t a mystery. You won’t be looking for red herrings, plot twists, or whodunnit. Just enjoy the roller-coaster ride.

Dean Koontz’s Shadowfires

Overview: Rachael Leben just wanted a quick divorce from her husband. Too bad that Eric didn’t see it the same way. She wasn’t asking for too much. But, it should be all over now. People don’t survive a head on collision with a garbage truck as a pedestrian. Nothing in Eric’s job as the premier genetic researcher could prevent that, right?

Story Telling: We have a techno horror novel with this one. You could also call it a creature story. Either way, there are science-fiction elements involved.

Dislikes: Anson Sharp was a jerk, and that’s putting it mildly. Arrogance, a self-serving nature, and delusions of grandeur do not make for a good public servant. And let’s face it, the political arena, military, emergency services, and some of the medical profession are meant to be for the public good. You get into these jobs for what you can do for others, and not how much devotion, adoration, and worship you can draw towards yourself. Pay the people who do these jobs a fair wage; but don’t take one of these jobs to place yourself on a pedestal.

The elder Leben couple should have been shot. No one has the right to blame the victim of such heinous crimes. It’s even worse to use God in such a way to confirm your beliefs. They truly were doing to work of evil in this case.

Likes: Reese Hagerstrom and Julio Verdad were a great team.

Benny was a surprise for Rachael. Good thing he was on her side, and dedicated to the moral right.

Jerry Peake was good for character growth. He has a dream, and he is working towards it. Plus Mr. Keil was just fun to be around.

Favorite Character: It’s Jerry this time around.

Favorite Quote: “Peake wanted not only be a successful agent but to be a legend, and you could be a legend only if you played fair and still got things done.”

Favorite Scene: There are two. The First was when Sharp and Jerry met Sarah Keil’s father.

And the second was when Reese met a wild dressing woman who worked for Ben Shadway.

Conclusion: This is a fun story. Enjoy it when you need a little shot of fear with your thriller.

Bill Cannon’s A Treasury of Texas Trivia II

Overview: Where can you find a boot-wearing Jesus? Or a barbed wire museum from…um…intimate origins? This book is loaded with these stories, and so much more. Let’s see what secrets, surprise histories, and just fun facts that the Lone Star State has to offer us.

Story Telling: Trivia books are just that, books full of short stories and facts.

Likes: Oh. This book’s structure makes finding certain facts easier. If you’re looking for fun stories, look under “Truth is Stranger than Fiction.” Looking for landmarks or other fun places to visit on your next trip? Start with “Unusual Claims to Fame.”

Favorite Stories: There’s so many of them. But, I’ll try to cut it down some. There’s “German Ingenuity,” “Only God can Make a Tree…” and “…One Riot–One Ranger.”

Conclusion: Enjoy this book. Maybe you’ll find some places to visit. Or you could find a few bits of trivia to win a drinking game.