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 Zangwell’s “The Big Bow Mystery”, and Raymond Chandler’s “Trouble is My Business.” Mr. Zangwell’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.

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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.

Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth

Overview: Mr. Franklin, one of the more memorable members of the Founding Fathers, had quite the life. He was a philanthropist, known as a writer, an inventor, a founder of the library system, not to mention one of the premier revolutionary.

Story Telling: This is one of Mr. Franklin’s “Poor Richard” writings. As it is, Mr. Franklin was known to write non-fiction, and wisdom imparting books.

Likes: Most of the advice in this book is some of the very things that our grandparents have told us time and again.

Conclusion: This is a very interesting book. With the wisdom, and the common sense approach, I would call it required reading.

Ellery Adams’s The Secret, Book & Scone Society

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

Overview: Nora Pennington has started over in Miracle Springs. It’s a nice town that’s well known for it’s healing springs and other spa treatments. Of course the spas aren’t the only treatment centers available. There’s the owner of the Gingerbread House, who can find a way to bake an important memory of yours into a scone. And Nora has her own therapy skill. If you have a problem, Nora will pick a list of novels that’ll help you through your situation. Unfortunately, the latest client has had an accident, maybe? Well, Nora isn’t so sure. And to find out what really happened, she is going to have to open up about her past to the other outcasts in town.

Story Telling: This is a cozy mystery. So there isn’t too much stress, and the investigation is more along the lines of the gossip mill.

Dislikes: Sheriff Hendricks is a jerk. I get it, he felt disrespected. But his reasons aside, two wrongs do not make a right.

Likes: Ms. Adams did not take the easy way out with her antagonists, and I’m using that term for anyone who puts a block to the investigation. She didn’t use caricatures, and made some interesting people to get to know.

The girls in the Society were well-rounded. And the book quotes were a great addition.

Favorite Character: It’s Hester and her aunt.

Favorite Quote: Referring to Hester, “To make food that seems so simple, but has an incredible complexity of taste and an ability to stir the heart? That’s a gift.”

Favorite Scene: It was when Jed helped Nora in Miracle Books.

Conclusion: This was a great book. It was fun to join these girls on their adventure. Enjoy it with your club.

Dean Koontz’s The Whispering Room-Jane Hawk 2

I received this book courtesy of Random House/Bantam Books for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Overview: It’s been three days since the showdown at Bertold Shenneck’s Napa Valley ranch. Three days since Jane’s dear friend and mentor, Nathan, was killed out of mercy. Now Jane is looking for a way to put an end to David James Michael’s plans. But that one be easy. There’s no way of knowing who all are associated with his vision of a new world. And if Jane doesn’t wish to be a remote-controlled kamikaze bent on destruction, or, even worse, an Aspasia Girl, then she is going to have to keep both eyes open as well as a healthy sense of paranoia.

Story Telling: This is a technological thriller, though you could easily call it a technological horror story as well. It’s also the middle of–as of last count–a quadrilogy. So expect it to be slightly darker, but in the Dean Koontz method.

Dislikes: Booth Hendrickson, as well as all the other named Arcadians, needs a taste of his own medicine. Now, don’t take this to mean that I would rob him of his freewill. A little vial of colored sugar water, ice cold, would do the trick. Does that make me cold-blooded?

Likes: I’m not sure if you would call Jane’s fortune luck, or more like Providence. It was great to see so many good people in this book. As well, Mr. Koontz kept this story contained to the book. There is still enough of a conspiracy to fill two more books.

Favorite Character: Now this is a hard call. There’s Luther Tillman, a sheriff that wasn’t born yesterday. Ancel and Clare Hawk, Nadine and Leland Sacket, a couple who seeks to give all children the best chance they can get. Grandpa, and eighty-year-old with a great attitude. And of course, there’s Porter Walkins. Let’s not forget Gavin and Jessica Washington. So, who to pick? Who to pick? It’s got to be Luther. Don’t expect him to just take you at your word.

Favorite Quote: As Random House/Bantam Books requests that all quotes are to be compared to a release day copy of “The Whispering Room” and there’s a good chance that I’ll forget to return to this review, there isn’t one this time around.

Favorite Scene: Oh. Travis has his pony. He’s just a cute little cowboy. Grandpa was fun to travel with. And then there was Nadine’s meeting with Jolie.

Conclusion: This was a fun read. Let’s hope that Jane can find a way to defeat the Arcadians. Remember that the middle books of trilogies and quadrilogies tend to be similar to the middle of a regular novel. That’ll be where a lot of the struggle and conflict, the worries of failure will show up. Enjoy this one.

Thomas Paine’s Common Sense

Overview: Are any of the Founding Fathers’ words of any value to today’s generation? Let’s see what one of the more, um, controversial Founders had to say about our quest for Independence. This pamphlet was issued to the Revolutionaries.

Story Telling: This pamphlet, if my memory serves me correctly, was written by Mr. Paine to encourage the efforts for freedom.

Likes: Mr. Paine does, oops, did not pull any punches. But, he also didn’t talk down to his audience either. He led his readers down the path of his train of thought. It allows the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Favorite Quote: “But if you have, and can still shake hands with the murderers, then you are unworthy of the name of husband, father, friend, or lover and whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a sycophant.” The words are harsh, but very true, both then and some of today’s situations.

Conclusion: This is a book that should be required reading for any American citizen. Sure, some of the spellings have been altered, and there’s mention of God–surprising because Mr. Paine has the reputation of being an Atheist. But, hey, we haven’t banned William Shakespeare’s works…yet. This book explains why the Declaration, and then the Constitution, was given us. Please, read this one for yourself.

Brad Leithauser’s The Norton Book of Ghost Stories

Overview: It’s getting to be that time of year again. The time when ghosts and other denizens of the otherworld come to scare us. Or, at least this book is trying to. Shall we see how well it does?

Story Telling: This anthology is loaded with stories from the early turn of the century to the mid-80’s. The only similarity is the fact that every story is considered a ghost story.

Dislikes: It may be my naiveté speaking, but I didn’t really get this anthology. Sure, I enjoyed a few stories, but most of them went over my head. “The Beckoning Fair One” in particular left me feeling sick. This feeling usually comes from Stephen King movies (I don’t have any desire to read any of his works) and the one Peter Straub book that I’ve tried. I do believe that one reached my “The Fallen” list.

Likes: Some of these stories were fun. Or maybe that was just watching those who thought that they knew so much be proven wrong.

Favorite Story: Oh! That would be “Casting the Runes” and “The Open Window.”

Conclusion: This is a decent book for those who are interested in ghost stories. Enjoy the read.

Lynette Jensen’s The Thimbleberries Guide for Weekend Quilters

Overview: Have you ever wanted to quilt? Did you used to quilt, yet quit because there never seems to be enough hours in the day? Well, the Thimbleberries have you covered with this book.

Story Telling: This is a tutorial book, yet it is for the more intermediate quilter.

Likes: This book has tips for working your quilts faster. Now, this book doesn’t pretend to be for the beginner. This book actually presumes that you already have the basics of either machine or hand quilting.

Also, the book includes other projects to correspond with the showcased quilts.

Favorite Quilt: It would be the “Piece of Cake.” It’s the one that I think might be fun to play with.

Conclusion: Once you get comfortable with quilting, this might be fun. Otherwise, this book will help you remember the joy of finishing some terrific work.