Iris Johansen’s Firestorm

Overview: Kerry Murphy has had a connection to fire since she was a young child. And that connection is about to become her biggest benefit. It turns out that there’s someone else who has a strong connection to fire. He also has strong connections to some hostile governments. You know, Kerry really wanted nothing to do with this jerk. She doesn’t even want much to do with the man hunting this particular arsonist down. But, sometimes the choice is taken out of our hands, right Kerry?

Story Telling: This is marketed as a romantic suspense novel. And it has suspense in spades. Now, the romance value is going to be based more on the reader’s expectations.

Dislikes: Kerry’s family life leaves much to be desired, to say the very least. I don’t care what your problem is with your spouse, the children shouldn’t be turned into weapons, or treated as an offshoot of the other partner.

And the romantic angle of the story bugs me a little. This is mostly caused by what Kerry and Silver’ abilities pertain to.

Likes: I appreciate how the sexual tension was handled in the novel.

Also George was one of the best parts of the story.

Favorite Character: It’s George. He not only understood himself, he could read quite a bit from other people.

Favorite Quote: Here’s something we all need to remember. “I am no. Everyone should have someone. Edna takes care of me. I take care of her. We both take care of the kids. It’s the way life should be.”

Favorite Scene: It’s Kerry’s relationship with George.

Conclusion: This is a good story, just as long as you don’t take it too seriously. Such is the beauty of the so-called beach reads.


Sue Grafton’s Q is for Quarry-Kinsey Millhone 17

Overview: Kinsey Millhone is still trying to set up her new office. As it is spring, the outside world is starting to come alive, tempting Kinsey away from her duties. Conrad Dolan and Stacey Oliphant have a solution for her cabin fever however. There was a body found at a quarry around eighteen years ago. As both former police officers are in poor health, they are eager to at least identify the body, if not solving the cold case. Did I mention that Kinsey’s maternal relatives own the quarry in question? That fact ought to put a fun little element to Kinsey’s investigation.

Story Telling: We have a first-person private detective mystery novel, but one that takes place in the late 1980’s. So, no DNA, no cellphones, rare mentions of computers, nothing much like we’re used to here in the new millennium.

Dislikes: Rita Millhouse, and Virginia Kinsey destroyed their family. And the worst part of it all, was when their mother sought reconciliation, they seemed to enjoy the split. And don’t get me started on the cause. Elopement is wrong due to the strain it puts on the family, and I struggle to see a reason that it would be considered a wiser course of action.

Also, Virginia seemed to be so eager to prove that Kinsey could be a strong woman who can stand on her own, that she left her niece without many of the skills that everyone, regardless of gender, needs to thrive as an adult.

Likes: Conrad Dolan and Stacey Oliphant had a great chemistry when it comes to both police work, as well as their friendship.

Kinsey’s Aunt Susanna and her daughter, Tasha, both showed great tenacity in order to bring Kinsey back to the family.

Favorite Character: Oh…I’m going with Stacey and Conrad.

Favorite Quote: I admit to slight vindictiveness here. “In many sections of the hillside, the vegetation had been overtaken by thick patches of cactus shaped like Ping-Pong paddles, abristle with thorns. I’ve always thought California prisons could discourage escape by seeding the surrounding landscape with vicious plants. Missing prisoners could be located by their howls of dismay and could spend their stay in solitary confinement picking thorns out of their heiniebumpers.”

Favorite Scene: It was every time Kinsey and Stacey had a new fast food encounter.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good book. Maybe, I’ll find more of the series. Enjoy it if you like private detective novels, or if you just enjoy mysteries.

Michael Okon’s Monsterland Reanimated-Monsterland 2

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

Overview: It’s been three weeks since the disaster that was the grand opening of Monsterland. The governments of Earth seem to have dissolved leaving the citizens open to all sorts of social evils. But, it’s not just people who are the problem. Something is brewing up under Copper Valley’s Monsterland. Can Wyatt and the remaining survivors band together to put an end to this nightmare?

Story Telling: Okay, if you’ve been following my blog very long, you will recognize this author. He used to write under the name Michael Phillip Cash. New name, same books and writing style, so no problem. We have a magical realism form of fantasy with his latest novel.

Dislikes: Okay, my beliefs about The United States political structure aside–we’re a Republic not a democracy, democracies tend to die as tyrannical mob rule–the ideals of the main antagonists are evil with a capital E. All respect to John Raven, he did support our country when asked, but evil can be discerned. Evil actions come from an evil heart. And robbing anyone of his/her freedoms without a due process conviction in a court of law by a jury of his/her peers, is evil.

Likes: Wyatt did try to be what his town needed. Carter struggled to keep justice running the way it was supposed to.

And Melvin didn’t let his status change destroy the relationships that he held dear.

Favorite Character: It’s still Carter White.

Favorite Quote: From Carter White “I fought for this country to defend your freedom. I will fight just as hard for justice.”

Favorite Scene: That would be Keisha’s idea of help. Maybe the bad boys should have been a bit more aware of mythology.

Conclusion: This is a pretty fun book. Just be sure you are more of a horror buff, movie or story wise. You’ll enjoy it more.

Michael Connelly’s The Wrong Side of Goodbye-Harry Bosch 21

Overview: Harry has found the best of both worlds that he has ever worked in. He has a private investigator’s license, and a small police department has offered him a position with their reserved section. So what does Bosch do? Get involved in two high profiled cases of course. One is a series of cold cases that are located in San Fernando, and the other is the search of a tycoon’s missing–if existent– heir.

Story Telling: We just have a police procedural. Isn’t Harry getting too old for this?

Dislikes: I have a couple of problems with this book. For starters: why do people always seem to think that if you have nothing to hide, you should talk to the police? Are we really willing to sacrifice our Constitutional Rights because we have ‘nothing to hide’? Are we to keep our mouths shut be cause we have nothing to say, thereby destroying our first amendment rights? Exactly how many amendments to our Constitution do we give up?

And two: the virtue signaling is getting old. It’s a cheap way of waving to any of the minority or other classes who can claim victim status, and saying “I’m on your side”. It does nothing other than that, and those you’re signaling to usually don’t care in the first place. If they are going to have a problem with your work, they will find a reason. It doesn’t matter what you write, or how much research you put into it.

Likes: The story was fun to run with. And Harry was able to accomplish a lot during one month. Adoption was also handled in a very favorable way in this one.

Favorite Character: It’s Chief Valdez. He had a great idea to get around the budget cuts. Sloan was pretty cool as well.

Favorite Quote: I’m going to probably offend many people out there on the internet. Mostly because it shows a better view on the Vietnam War. “The story quoted Santanello’s mother as saying her son had been very proud to serve his country despite the antiwar sentiment back home at the time.”

Favorite Scene: I enjoyed seeing what Sloan’s priorities were.

Conclusion: Harry Bosch’s stories are fun. Just please, Mr. Connelly, lay off on the signaling. I’m getting scared to read your up coming books.

Maureen Bloomfield & James A. Markle’s Pure Color-The Best of Pastel

Overview: There are as many art-styles as there are artists. For most, inspiration can be found with but a simple search on your favorite search engine. For those who wish to master pastels, that search can be daunting. Can this book succeed in it’s attempts to inspire the would-be artists?

Story Telling: This is a coffee table book. These books are more valued for the photos than the descriptions.

Likes: The range of styles shown here will attract many artists as well as art collectors. The artists showcased, even explain why, and sometimes how, they came about the pieces.

Favorite Pieces: I prefer the more defined pieces.

Conclusion: This is perfect for inspiration. But, it’s also nice if you want to add a little be of color to your life without a heavy price tag.

Dean Koontz’s The Crooked Staircase-Jane Hawk 3

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

Overview: Jane has been on her run, both from the Techno-Arcadians as well as her quest to bring the entire conspiracy to justice, for two months now. She has a new target of the conspiracy in her sights. It seems like her enemies have doubled down on their resources as well, all in order to bring her to heel. Will Jane manage to keep up her momentum? And is Travis as safe as she hopes?

Story Telling: We’re in the middle of Jane’s fight in this techno-thriller.

Dislikes: This book is one of the darkest that I’ve come across from Mr. Koontz in a while. Part of this is the fact that we’re in the middle of the Arcadian war. The rest of it involves the Shukla twins side story. That aspect seemed like it was added for the dark-factor, though it did bring up some aspects of the nanoweb enslavement.

Likes: Gavin and Jessica Washington work so hard to keep Travis safe.

Cornell is something else. He is willing to help his cousin, but the guy is definitely a loner.

Favorite Character: It’s Gavin and Jessica.

Favorite Scene: This time it would be the horseback ride that Gavin took Travis on.

Favorite Quote: I really couldn’t find one. That’s not very common in a Dean Koontz book.

Conclusion: This is a difficult book to get through, though it is necessary to read if you are interested in seeing Jane’s war to the end.

Frank Schatzing’s The Swarm

Overview: Something has gone horribly wrong in the earth’s oceans. Animals, who normally don’t give humanity a second glance, have now started to attack people in droves. Then, there are the weird creatures showing up at deep-sea drilling rigs. What’s going on? Is it an invasion of an extra-terrestrial origin? Or is it something closer to home?

Story Telling: We have a science-fiction/horror novel this time. You could partially call it a killer nature book.

Dislikes: I have a bit of a problem with this book.

For one thing, Mr. Schatzing only seems to have stereotypical American citizens in this book. We have the over-achieving woman, the paranoid CIA agent, the back-stabbing scientist, the southern hick, and the black man struggling with his ghetto upbringing.

Another thing, like Christianity or not, that doesn’t make this one religion fair game for the ignorant, or Bible-thumping bigot roles. At least learn Christian doctrine first. Most Christians believe that, while man was given dominion over the earth, a good steward would bring devastating ruin to those under his/her care for fun, or just for a little profit.

And the final point: there is a reason that known man-eaters are usually euthanized. You can never know how they will react in the wild. Take certain lion prides in Africa for example. They now seek out humans as a food source. This has happened because some cannot bear to see those prides killed.

Likes: Karen Weaver was a fun woman to follow.

And Sigur gave Tina good advice concerning her boyfriend.

Greywolf might have taken his anger, at his past, out on those around him, yet he remembered his humanity in the long run.

Conclusion: This had so much promise. Unfortunately, Mr. Schatzing’s preaching about the virus known as humanity ruined a fun adventure for me. Perhaps you’ll have better luck with it.

John Grisham’s Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer-Theodore Boone 1

Overview: Theodore Boone is around the law enforcement and judicial world quite a bit. Part of it is the fact that both of his parents are lawyers. The rest of it is just Theodore’s dream job. When he finds a surprise witness to a murder case, what is he to do? Keep the witness’s secret and let an injustice be done? Or try to keep both the law, and his integrity in tact?

Story Telling: This is a middle-grade mystery.

Dislikes: This is a pet-peeve of mine. But, why are illegal/undocumented immigrants always shown as the underdog working towards a dream/better life? Honestly it’s the equivalent of saying that a trespasser in your home just wants to enjoy your company. The odds aren’t really in you favor either way.

Likes: Theodore did try to do the right thing.

Conclusion: This is one that should be read as a family. This way, you can discuss the finer points of the case with your young lawyer in the making.

Delores Boone’s Handcrafted Soap-Make it Today, Use it Tonight

Overview: Have you ever wanted to make soap? Do you enjoy finding new ways to use your favorite fragrance or essential oils? Don’t think that the soap-making process is too hard. Ms. Boone has offered us three different methods of hot-processed soap-making, and twenty-eight recipes to get the beginner started.

Story Telling: We have a how-to book.

Dislikes: Make sure you have a digital scale. While my produce-style scale worked. My soap was a 50/50 shot of success.

Likes: There are three ways of using the hot-process method, so if you don’t like one style, try another.

Favorite Recipe: That would be the traditional Castile soap.

Conclusion: This is an interesting craft. Try it, you might like your home-made soap better than store-bought.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island

Overview: Ever since The Captain has moved into the Admiral Benbow Inn, Jim and his family haven’t had very much peace. And it doesn’t get much better when former colleagues of The Captain’s start showing up for business meetings. After the old man’s untimely demise, Jim and his mother run off with the money owed to the bill. Of course, Jim had grabbed an oilskin package with a secret. Can Jim and a few honest folk beat The Captain’s former colleagues to the treasure? Only time will tell.

Story Telling: We have an adventure story. Or, you could call it a pirate’s tale. It’s definitely a boy’s story.

Dislikes: It’s mostly a matter of tastes, as I’ve never truly bought into the romanticizing of the piracy or pirate life.

Likes: It is a more traditional story, so there are rules of conduct safe for the younger ears.

Conclusion: There’s really nothing wrong with this story. Enjoy it with your buccaneers.