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.

M. J. Arlidge’s The Doll’s House-Helen Grace 3

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

Overview: Helen Grace has gotten a, perhaps unpleasant, distraction from her search for her nephew. A woman was found buried on a beach. How long has she been buried out there? It’s a surprise even to her closest family members. She’s still tweeting her life away. How long has this been going on? And does it have anything to do with the girl who recently went missing?

Story Telling: Once again we have the England-based police procedural.

Dislikes: I don’t understand Ceri Harwood. Helen wasn’t trying to interfere with Harwood’s career, her only job was to stop killers.

Lloyd Fortune was put in a bad position. I hope his decisions don’t harm his career.

Likes: Charlie is pregnant again. Yay! And Helen is starting to trust…somewhat. She can get better, maybe. And Ruby had some fight in her.

Favorite Character: This time it’s Caleb Fortune. Sometimes the hardest thing is to admit to a dark truth in order to show a loved one the way.

Favorite Quote: Not this time either.

Favorite Scene: Ruby’s escape attempt would be it. The girl has guts.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. Have fun joining the investigation.

M. J. Arlidge’s Pop Goes the Weasel-Helen Grace 2

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

Overview: It’s been a year since DI Helen Grace has been forced to face down a serial killer. Now it appears to be starting all over again. Men are being found in very compromising areas, and they aren’t the only ones suffering the consequences. Can this situation end any better than the last one?

Story Telling: This is another semi-dark police procedural. And yes, Helen hasn’t left England yet.

Dislikes: I have two problems with this novel. Let’s start with the major one first. There is a Christian denomination referenced in this book, the Christian Domestic Order to be precise. Now, I couldn’t write this review before I looked this denomination up. See, I thought the denomination was invented for the book. Unfortunately, that is only part of the truth. The Christian Domestic Order is called something else in the world, and it did originate in England. Yet the portrayal of this order in the book was much more violent than those who choose this order truly act. As it is, this book seems more inline with a certain Middle-Eastern religion, than straight-forward Christianity.

And then there was Emilia. The nicest way to put her in this book was that she was a pain. My reading partner has a very unladylike assessment of her. Yes, the public has a right to know if a serial killer is hunting in their neighborhoods. That right ends where the victims’, their families’, and other innocent bystanders’ rights begin. Some times you swallow your pride, and the story if you cannot get it without destroying an innocent’s life.

Likes: Charlie was still a good person to follow. We saw just how bad the situation in the last book affected her, and how she dealt with the fallout. She wants to do the right thing. Helen tried to do the best thing for her nephew.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote: I don’t know why I can’t find one here.

Favorite Scene: The best part was the epilogue. It was sweet.

Conclusion: This might be a novel that causes Mr. Arlidge to lose some of his readers. They must remember that Mr. Arlidge is British, as such, he gives a British point-of-view on Christianity, which might not be the same as America’s. And that’s sad, because it’s a good book. When it comes to the Christian aspects, try to picture the guy as someone who doesn’t represent Jesus very well. After all, it is a police procedural, and not all professing Christians are Christian-like. It’s another good book by Mr. Arlidge. I’m looking forward to the next.

M.J. Arlidge’s Eeny Meeny- Helen Grace 1

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

Overview: Something has gone very wrong in Southampton. Two people are being kidnapped and left with a horrible choice. They are left in an isolated area with no food, no water, and a gun with only one bullet. What kind of person derives pleasure from such a sick game? And can Helen Grace’s team stop the game before any more participants are forced to play it?

Story Telling: This is a police novel, albeit one of the more gritty forms. As well, this novel is based in England. I guess Southampton kind of gives that part away.

Dislikes: It’s mostly the gore. Sometimes, the story requires it, as in this case. It’s just disturbing.

Likes: Mr. Arlidge did something that marks him as a true international writer. He makes sure that the readers from outside of his country were well-aware of what the abbreviations meant. And I thank him for that.

Charlie and Mark were pretty cool, even if they both had their own problems to deal with.

Now, back to the gore. It isn’t over the top, nor in brutal detail. It’s kind of, not really glossed over, but implied without beating you over the head with the amount of detail. It makes for a more enjoyable read.

Favorite Character: It will have to be Mark Fuller.

Favorite Quote: Sorry guys, I couldn’t find one this time around.

Favorite Scene: I enjoyed joining Charlie when she found out that she was pregnant.

Conclusion: There is some hope in this book. And, it’s an interesting, as well as a clean, read. Enjoy it if you like police procedurals, or foreign mysteries.

Ronald Rice’s My Bookstore-Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop

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

Overview: With commercial giants like Barnes and Noble, or online monoliths like Amazon, is there still a market for the community, independently owned bookstores? According to the essays in this books, they sure do. Let’s follow these authors on a cross-country journey to some of their favorite bookstores.

Story Telling: This is a book of essays, but don’t let that put you off. Where else will you find an essay in the form of a comic strip?

Dislikes: The only problem I had was that a few authors allowed politics to, well, envelop every aspect of their lives, or at least it seemed that way. But, outside of God and family, I don’t think that anything should envelop your life to this extent.

Likes: It’s refreshing to hear that neither the printed books nor the bookstores are doomed. That is just hopeful for those dreaming of seeing their books in print.

Favorite Quote: Here’s a good one. “I write because I have to, because when I don’t, I feel as if I’m losing my sense of self.

Favorite Essay: Those would be the ones written by Kristen Harmel, Carolyn Hart, and the joint essays by Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown, and Wendell and Florence Minor.

Conclusion: This is a great book for the aspiring writer to read. And enjoy it even if you are one of those who enjoy the company of loaded bookshelves.

Michael Connelly’s Chasing the Dime

Overview: Henry Pierce has just moved in to a new apartment, complete with a new phone number. Unfortunately, that number belonged to a girl named Lilly. Since his break-up with his fiancé, Henry decides to find Lilly. Will this idea work out for the best? Or will he regret ever starting out on this excursion.

Story Telling: Normally, a mystery involving people outside of law-enforcement, or the legal field, being the protagonists is called a cozy-mystery. I’m not so sure what kind of mystery this would be, as it breaks the other rules for a cozy.

Dislikes: It’s Henry. This guy is supposedly a certified genius. I understand that just because you are a genius in one field, it doesn’t mean that the genius branches out to all aspects of your life, but this guy doesn’t even have the basics of common sense. His moral code irked me as well.

One more thing. I don’t care if you prefer to call it ‘social engineering,’ a lie is a lie. At least be man enough to admit to it.

Likes: Playing the game of cross-over cameos is pretty fun. Also, there were quite a few honorable characters in the story.

Favorite Character: Well, there’s Nicole, Robert Renner, and Clyde Vernon.

Favorite Scene and Quote: There isn’t one here.

Conclusion: This is a story for those who prefer it dark. Personally, I prefer some redeeming factor in my protagonists.

Sterling’s Crocheting School-A Complete Course

Overview: Handmade work seems to be enjoying a comeback. This leaves the question for the new crafter: what should I start with? Sterling has an answer. Why not crochet?

Story Telling: This is a how-to book, but it is more of a reference guide.

Likes: This has step-by-step instructions, as well as accompanying photographs for each stitch, or variety of stitches, and pattern stitches.

The book also walks the reader through various ways to get the same effect.

Favorite Pattern: This book works more with the stitches, so there isn’t any pattern per se.

Conclusion: This is a good resource for the beginning and more experienced crotcheter. You may have to pair it with tutorial videos if you are more of a visual learner.

Dean Koontz’s Winter Moon

Overview: Jack and Heather McGarvey have had a very interesting year. But it’s beginning to look up.. The father to one of Jack’s closest friends and former partner has left them a major windfall. Say goodbye to the violence of the city life. No more hour-long commutes to the closest store. Hello snow, quietness, good clean mountain air. What could possibly go wrong? Um, should we tell them that they are in a Dean Koontz book?

Story Telling: Mr. Koontz has a few different storylines. This one is a monster book.

Dislikes: This is kind of hard to explain. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve started with Mr. Koontz’s later books, but this one seemed to be missing something. Even the ending left something to be desired.

Likes: Eduardo was a neat old man. He may have preferred the more, down-to-earth stories, but he was willing to shift his thinking to fit the facts as presented.

Eagle’s Roost seems like a nice place to live, if the snow wasn’t such a threat.

Favorite Character: Harlan Moffit. I can’t tell you much about him, but this is the guy who is good for a party.

Favorite Quote: This one is pretty strong, you might want to read the whole thing in context. “Luther saw it coming years ago. Said politicians were tearing down a thousand years of civilization brick by brick but weren’t building anything to replace it.”

Favorite Scene: It would be when Toby got his dog. As well as when Paul was playing word games with Toby.

Conclusion: There is a lot of hope in this book, but it isn’t one of Mr. Koontz’s best. If you don’t mind a little uncertainty, give this one a shot.

Lincoln Child’s Deep Storm–Jeremy Logan 1

Overview: Dr. Peter Crane is used to high-stress jobs. After all, both the submarines in the Navy, as well as a few research groups aren’t exactly known for peace and relaxation, not even if you are an adrenaline junkie. His new assignment might just be more than he can handle. Peter has been called in to assist with the puzzle of the century. One a very special dig, members of the Deep Storm crew have fallen victim to a odd set of calamities. Unfortunately, there seems to be no common denominator. Can Peter find out what’s going on? Or, will he fall victim to outside forces?

Story Telling: I’m not really sure where to file this book. We have one part adventure, one part espionage, another part mystery, plus a bit of science-fiction to boot.

Dislikes: It’s mostly a matter of tastes. I don’t care much for aquatic our espionage novels.

Likes: Admiral Spartan was an impressive man. He seemed to want the best for the whole situation.

Favorite Character: It would be a toss up between Dr. Flyte and Admiral Spartan.

Favorite Quote: “So what? A black panther’s beautiful, too…right up to the minute it rips your guts out.”

Favorite Scene: It was the conversations between Dr. Flyte and Peter.

Conclusion: This was a decent book. I hope you enjoy it.