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.

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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.

Dean Koontz’s Deeply Odd–Odd Thomas 6

Overview: Odd just needs some new clothes. Is that really too much to ask? Well someone, who wishes to supplant Glenn Campbell as the rhinestone cowboy, seems to think so. He has a nasty surprise. It’s a surprise that involves fire, but no birthday cake. Good thing that Annamaria is okay with Odd not coming back to the cottage for quite a while.

Story Telling: The Odd Thomas series is written in the style of memoirs, but there is also quite a bit of paranormal activity involved as well. Please don’t think that I’m referring to the movie, as I have never seen the Paranormal Activity series.

Dislikes: The would-be cowboy deserved a whole lot worse. With the crime being so unthinkable, I might be a little bit biased.

Likes: Mrs. Fischer was a fun little woman. She held more than enough courage to do what had to be done. Yet she always had a ready smile for those around her.

I’m pretty sure that I know what Annamaria is. Word of warning: whenever Mr. Koontz has the afterlife referenced in his books, he also includes a heavily religious theme. And the Odd Thomas series has more than just referenced the afterlife. By this book, you really ought to expect that from Mr. Koontz.

Favorite Character: It’s Edie Fischer.

Favorite Quote: There are two of them this time. Here’s one for the activists out there today: “The world howls for social justice, but when it comes to social responsibility, you sometimes can’t even hear crickets chirruping.”

This probably would never fit a motivational calendar, but it’s important advice. “The thing to understand is that you have to do what you have to do, always and without complaint.”

Favorite Scene: Once again, there are two. One was the house that Odd and Mrs. Fischer took the survivors.

And the other was the discussion that Odd held with the Kens concerning the Baptist preacher and his wife conceal carrying. There was no self-awareness with those two.

Conclusion: This was a decent story. Though, I suspect that it would have been more enjoyable if I had read books four and five. And no, you cannot talk too much about “The Lord of the Rings,” unless you’re talking about the…movies.

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.