Mary Higgins Clark’s The Shadow of Your Smile

Overview: An eighty-three year-old, Olivia Morrow, has a moral dilemma. Her cousin is being considered for sainthood, yet she had–at one time–an illicit affair. Catherine never wanted her son, nor potential grandchildren, to know about his ancestry. Unfortunately, others know about Olivia’s problem, and not even Catherine’s granddaughter–Dr. Monica Farrell–is safe from their schemes.

Story Telling: This is registered as a suspense novel. However, this will be dependent on the reader.

Dislikes: Catherine doesn’t strike me as saint-like. Oh, sure, she took care of children with polio. Yet, she willingly had a rendezvous that resulted in a child. And, forgive my bluntness, she wasn’t woman enough to take responsibility for her actions, nor did she allow her child the chance to know his father. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of adoption. Adoptions are great things. There are times when a parent cannot give a child what he or she needs, then adoption is beneficial. There are always parents who want a child. But, you can be a mother, a wife, and still dedicate your life to God. You don’t have to cloister yourself away as a nun, monk, or priest, in order to dedicate your life to God, and help the people.

And you know, when I hear suspense, I think: boom, bang, pow-pow, high speed chases, near death experiences, all to save the day at the end of the novel. What I got was: kissy-kissy, lovey-dovey, gossipy, with a dash of C.S.I. in the background.

Likes: Ryan Jenner was a cool guy. He also didn’t let Monica walk all over him.

Favorite Character: It would be Alexander Gannon. Oh, yeah, I know that the blurb claims that he violated Catherine, yet she shows no signs of being a victim. No, I don’t mean the adoption vs. abortion thing. I mean Catherine’s argument for not letting Alexander know about Edward. And vice versa.

Favorite Quote: I don’t really have one this time around.

Favorite Scene: It’s the time that Susan spent with Sally.

Conclusion: This isn’t for the high impact suspense fan. If you like the gossipy style of oh joy, someone is out to kill our plucky hero/heroine, you might enjoy this one.

Carole P. Roman’s Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump-Oh Susannah 2

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

Overview: Susannah has figured out her helping problem. Now she has to figure out how to handle fear. Can she do it?

Story Telling: We have another early-reader chap-book.

Artwork: We have black and white illustrations at the beginning of the chapters.

Dislikes: Really, there were only two things that I had a problem with. One: Susannah seems to have a big problem with fear. One that seems overwhelming for anyone, much less a child.

And two: spiders can hurt you. Granted, most house spiders are not dangerous to people, but there are still the deadliest in America. The black widow and the brown recluse, and only one of them can be easily identify, if it’s the female.

Likes: Susannah was able to help her friends with many things.

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

Conclusion: This book is kind of interesting. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Enjoy it with your young readers.

Dean Koontz’s The Silent Corner-Jane Hawk 1

Overview: Going off-grid isn’t as easy as anyone might think. Most of the newest technology, if not all of it, is easily tracked. You have to be dedicated to shunning it. Jane Hawk has that dedication. She has to. Two months ago, her happy, optimistic husband, Nick, committed suicide in their bathroom. The thing is, his note was weird to those who read it. And like any good investigator working in law enforcement, Jane digs into it. Maybe ‘They’ shouldn’t have threatened her.

Story Telling: We have a ‘dark government’ type of thriller this time. Too bad it’s the beginning of a series.

Dislikes: The ‘They’ in this book needs a clear cut case of karma. No member of humankind deserves, is owed, or has the right to play ‘god.’ I don’t always like the results of God’s ordering of the world, but at least we actually have choices.

Likes: Jane has a drive to stop evil that is very much admirable. As well, she was able to find friends in the most unlikely of places.

Nathan Silverman seemed to have a strong sense of right and wrong. That and his drive for justice, made him a great man.

Favorite Character: Now this is a toss-up between Nathan and Dougal. Nathan was willing to give a friend the benefit of the doubt. And Dougal has yet to find a good cause that he doesn’t like.

Favorite Quote: Here’s one for those who wish to twist Scripture as a reason to hate the rich. “Wealth had not corrupted him. What he’d chosen to do with his wealth corrupted him.”

Favorite Scene: It’s the time that Jane spent with Travis. The little guy wasn’t sure of what he wanted more, riding or Mommy.

Conclusion: Keep in mind that this is the beginning of a series. So, it will be a slow start. If you can get by that, it’s a great book.

Ruth Emmie Lang’s Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

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

Overview: Weylyn Grey is an extraordinary man. He has lived with wolves, seems to have a knack for understanding any animal. Plants seem to thrive around him. And let’s not mention the weather. As remarkable as he is, can he find a way to talk to the woman he loves.

Story Telling: I would call this a magic realism/clean romance novels. Let’s face it, there are both magical and romantic elements in this one.

Dislikes: I had a few issues with this book. For starters, Weylyn seemed to be a coward. If he has, shall we call it a power failure, he would run. It’s easy to run. Sometimes, you have to cowboy up, and face the music. Yes, there were horrible consequences to his powers failures. Isolating yourself to learn control is admirable; isolating yourself to avoid temptation is not.

It seemed like Ms. Lang was trying to equate obsession with love. Don’t get me wrong. There are cases where utter devotion can seem like obsession, yet those cases are marriages that have withstood the test of time.

The only other problem I had with this book was with some of the ideas that were passed off as truth, yet were little more than politically correct prejudices.

One: Most home schooling parents are not teaching their children because they are either too bigoted or stupid to realize that public schools are the best. These parents almost always have their children’s best interests in mind. Also, they believe that some lessons that should be the parents’ job, not the schools.

Two: Not every Christian is a ‘young earth’ believer. Some of us not only believe in dinosaurs, we like them. We’re also glad that they are dead.

And three: Green energy just isn’t effective. Not only do you not get the electricity you would assume, they leave unintended consequences. For example: once the temperature reaches, I believe, ninety degrees, solar panels start losing power. Not to mention, windmills tend to kill the very birds you are trying to save. You might want to check me on this.

Likes: It may seem like this book went to the ‘dislike with a passion’ pile. It didn’t. There were many things that I liked.

Mary’s biology team, studying wolves, tried to pass on some good advice.

Weylyn found special people to become his extended family.

Duane showed that he was willing to do what it takes to save a life, as well as be a friend. Just remember a boss can be a friend, and still do things that might seem harsh.

Favorite Character: It would be Reverend Thomas Kramer. He showed the true spirit that Jesus asked of His disciples.

Favorite Quote: This might have been meant as a slam, but truth is truth. “When Mama met Weylyn, she was as sweet as syrup, which didn’t surprise me because she was raised in the Deep South, where hospitality is only second to Jesus.”

Favorite Scene: That would be the ever-growing forest. That would be a logger’s dream. No tree huggers, as the trees will be back by tomorrow.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. It just wasn’t to my tastes. It’s clean enough for a child to read but if you take that path, read it with them, so you can discuss what Weylyn did, or what they would do in that case.

Karen Chu’s Jawsome Shark Quizzes

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

Overview: How much do you know about sharks? Ms. Chu has put out a book that seeks to challenge that knowledge. What do you say? Are you up to the challenge?

Story Telling: We have a quiz and puzzle book, complete with subject specific trivia.

Dislikes: This is aimed at children, yes. But, to just imply that animals only kill to eat, is naïve at best. Just think about lions, for example.

Likes: Some of these questions were fascinating. And the games were fun, mostly. Then there’s just freaky information in between.

Conclusion: This was a fun book. It even has trivia to some popular franchises such as: Batman, Harry Potter, and the daddy of shark movies, Jaws. Enjoy this one.

Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library-Miss Marple 3

Overview: The Bantrys are a rather well-to-do family in St. Mary’s Mead. So, imagine the scandal that hits when a young woman is found in the library. Did I mention that she is dead? Lucky for them, Miss Marple can’t resist a good mystery. Why were the Bantrys picked to take the fall? And who is the girl?

Story Telling: We have another British manor mystery. If it’s called something else, please let me know.

Dislikes: The benefits of a small town–the closeness, the gossip mill, the affordability–can also sometimes be the downfall. Nobody wants to be on t he wrong side of the gossip mill.

Likes: Miss Marple has quite a way of thinking. She was unwilling to let an innocent man hang.

Colonel Bantry and Mrs. Bantry both showed great character.

Favorite Character: It’s Conway Jefferson. He was willing to give his children the best start in their lives.

Favorite Quote: A perfect quote for a mystery. “Human nature is very much the same anywhere, Sir Henry.”

Favorite Scene: Oh, that would be when Miss Marple was playing door-to-door solicitor for the church.

Conclusion: This was a fun little mystery. Though, Miss Marple is more suited to the cozy mystery fans.

Carole P. Roman’s Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag-Oh Susannah 1

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

Overview: Susannah has a problem. Her math homework is unfinished, she has gotten an unwanted invitation to a slumber party at a creepy house, and both have been hidden away in her book bag. And the problems keep piling on. How much can one bag take? And can Susannah find out how to take care of her problems?

Story Telling: This is an early-reader chap-book. Probably around second grade, maybe. It depends on your reader.

Artwork: What illustrations exist are mostly in black and white.

Dislikes: Susannah’s family needs help. She doesn’t seem to be understood by either side.

Likes: Susannah did find some help for her problems.

Favorite Quote: I can’t really find one without spoiling the story. Not good for such a small book.

Conclusion: This one was pretty good, even if it did get a little more serious than I’d prefer. Enjoy it with your young reader.

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

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

Overview: It’s time for another trip. This time we’re heading for one of the hold-overs of the Cold War, Cuba. What will we learn on this trip?

Story Telling: We have a new cultural travelogue.

Artwork: This one has semi-realistic illustrations mixed with photography.

Likes: This cultural book was kept more simplistic in terms of both particular words, as well as some of the day-to-day living conditions.

Conclusion: This was an interesting book. Just remember to do your own research, as there is more to any nation’s culture. Enjoy it with your travelers.

M. J. Arlidge’s Little Boy Blue & Hide and Seek-Helen Grace 5 & 6

I received these books for the purpose of fair and honest reviews, even if I’m treating them as one over-long book, just because he did.

Overview: Helen Grace is facing a nightmare from her past. People, who she has hired in the past, have been murdered. Guess how is the chief suspect. Helen’s track record should help keep her out of prison, right? I wouldn’t hold my breath. Maybe her team will have her back. Of course this is all predicated on Helen surviving prison. Especially, since there seems to be another serial killer operating with a captive audience.

Story Telling: These books are police procedurals, even if one takes place in prison.

Dislikes: I was really hoping that Mr. Arlidge wasn’t going to trash every Detective Superintendent that Helen Grace had. That didn’t work out. First Whitaker, then Harwood, and now Gardam? Why were those who were supposed to have some of the highest regard for life, be it of the suspect or the victims, shown to have no regard for the lives of their own people?

Not only that, but if you are a man in this series, you better be a doormat. If you’re not, you’ll be portrayed as a misogynist, a killer, or a scumbag.

Emilia hasn’t learned one thing in her career. She only knows how to destroy lives.

And has anyone thought about testing Helen for sociopathy?

Likes: Charlie is one of the best people in this series. She wasn’t willing to just buy Helen’s innocence, nor was she fast in betraying her boss.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote & Scene: I don’t have one this time around.

Conclusion: This series started strong, kind of like “Criminal Minds” based in England. Unfortunately, it seems to have gotten dark for the sake of darkness. If you continue the series after “The Doll’s House,” you are going to need to have a favorite in Helen Grace herself. I hope you enjoy it.

M. J. Arlidge’s Liar, Liar-Helen Grace 4

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

Overview: Helen Grace is on a brand new case. Somebody is starting fires. Three of them in one night. Two are at business properties, and the third is at a family home. What is the purpose of these fires? Is someone just having fun, albeit a sick form of it, or is it something far more nefarious?

Story Telling: We have another police procedural from England.

Dislikes: This book seems to push the idea that those born with disabilities shouldn’t be allowed to live. But, that’s not fair. It may seem cold, but children with epilepsy and cerebral palsy usually have a lot of medical bills. The easy path would have been for the Harrises to opt for an abortion, but they didn’t. They cowboyed up, and took responsibility for their actions. They worked themselves to the bone for their son. They hired people so that he was never alone. Does anyone have the right to damn the parents because they hired a bad care-giver? Did you know that dinner parties are how some business owners gain new clients? As far as I’m concerned Michael and Jacqueline Harris were treated unfairly at best.

And Emilia Garanita is a sick monster. There is no reason to take such pleasure in ruining somebody’s life like she does.

Likes: There were several people showed great strength. It’s hard to take responsibility for your actions in this day and age, and it’s refreshing to see such examples as Denise Roberts, Mandy Blayne, the Harrises, and the Simmses.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote: Okay, so it’s not from this book, but it’s so applicable. “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But everyone shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” Jeremiah 31:29-30, King James version. The emphasis is mine. There is another passage just as powerful in the whole chapter of Ezekiel 18.

Favorite Scene: It would be Charlie’s Christmas party.

Conclusion: This isn’t one of the better Helen Grace novels. And, while I was disappointed in the way the story unfolded, it is still a decent story.