Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women-March 1

Overview: The Marches have four young girls: Meg-16, Jo-15, Beth-13, and Amy-probably 11. With each of them having a particular personality type, and them living in the middle of the Civil War, it’s a wonder that there is such a peace in the house. How will each of these young ladies grow into womanhood? Let’s find out, shall we?

Story Telling: This will be telling the age of this poor book, but we have a book of manners, as it used to be called. Today, we just call it a classic.

Dislikes: This book does hold a special place in my heart, but sometimes the girls could be pretty nasty to each other. Honestly, destroying somebody’s property just because Momma told you no to a trip at this time, is more than just a case of immaturity.

That and Beth asked more of Jo than anyone can or should give.

Likes: The girls did try to better their corners of the world. Each one of them strove for their dreams, and weren’t easily dissuaded.

Favorite Character: It’s Jo.

Favorite Quote: It comes at the end of the girls’ experiment. “Yes, I wanted you to see how the comfort of all depends on each doing their share faithfully.”

Favorite Scene: It’s when Jo tried to throw the dinner party. In particular, when she was trying to figure out when to put the bread in to the oven.

Conclusion: This is a wonderful story. Enjoy it with your young ones, or just as a way to retreat to a more peaceful era. Of course you’d have to ignore the Civil War part, though it’s not really mentioned much.

Advertisements

Charlie Daniels’s Never Look at the Empty Seats

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

Overview: I’m sure most people heard “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” At least anyone who spends very much time at all listening to country music stations has. Of course, Mr. Daniels has not been shy about voicing his opinions on his “Soapbox” column. So, what can he tell us about life as a musician?

Story Telling: This is a memoir. As far as I can figure, that is a looser form of an autobiography.

Dislikes: The only real dislike I have is that Mr. Daniels doesn’t have a chronological order. Though he does seem to keep his jumps situated in the same decade.

Likes: Mr. Daniels takes a “no prisoners” approach to life. And, as his poem to senior students Moore and Leonard would indicate, he doesn’t care–or worry–much about offending anyone.

Favorite Quote: This is meant for fledgling musicians, but it works for all creative types as well as other professionals. “I realized early in my quest that there is no set of maps that can chart your course for you. There is only trial and error, growing some thick skin, getting up one more time that you get knocked down, and never ever giving up. And that requires some sacrifices.”

Favorite Story: Now that would be the chapter titled: “I Ain’t Nothing but a Simple Man, They Call Me a Redneck, I Reckon that I Am.”

Conclusion: This is a good book for those who like to read–or hear–stories from past generations, or any Charlie Daniels fan. Enjoy the trip down Charlie’s memory lane.

L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz-Oz 1

Overview: I’m fairly certain that most people know the story of “The Wizard of Oz.” This is what happens when a movie becomes a temporary mainstay on one of the three basic broadcasting channels. There are some major differences when you get to the source material. Yes, you still have Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion heading to see the Wizard. But, that’s about it for the similarities.

Story Telling: This is meant as a children’s fantasy. Mr. Baum even called it a modern fairy tale.

Dislikes: This is one of the few times that the movie out-does the book. Mostly because Mr. Baum wished–his words–to have the more dangerous things or situations left out of his modern fairy tale.

Likes: Oz was a real place in this book. And Mr. Baum showed the travelers’ skills and innate heart, brains, and courage fairly well.

Favorite Character: It would be Glinda.

Favorite Scene: Actually it was the travelers’ first meeting with Oz.

Conclusion: This was a different style of story. It may make for a fun game of “Spot the Difference.” Enjoy it with your munchkins.

Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas-Illustrated by Becky Kelly

Overview: How can you showcase one of the most renowned Christmas tales? Mrs. Kelly is quite interested in showing us.

Story Telling: This is the epic poem written by Mr. Moore in 1822. I’m pretty sure every one knows it well.

Artwork: Mrs. Kelly uses a watercolor style that, in my opinion, brings life to the poem.

Likes: Both the illustrations and the poem seem to work in tandem in a perfect way.

Conclusion: This is a perfect story for the season. Enjoy it with your little elves.

Kevin Moore’s Christmas Stories-7 Original Short Stories

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

Overview: Can you ever get too much of Christmas? That’s a rhetorical question. Mr. Moore has offered us a collection dedicated to the season. Do they work?

Story Telling: We have a single author anthology this time around. Also, we have Christmas stories.

Dislikes: Some of these stories seem to have been cut short, no pun intended. The ideas are good, the spirit is good, but the stories, for the most part, are too short to merge the idea and the spirit comfortably.

Likes: Like I said, the spirit behind the stories is good, and some of them come real close to succeeding.

Favorite Story: That would be “The Santa Suit.”

Conclusion: This is a good book. Mr. Moore’s next novel ought to be much stronger. Enjoy these stories, and remember the season.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle-Sherlock Holmes 7

Overview: Dr. Watson has come to check on his old friend. Let it not be said that Sherlock Holmes cannot find something to occupy his mind. What kind of mystery can a lost hat and a goose cause?

Story Telling: Most of us today are too used to murder being the crime in a mystery novel. Yeah, it’s the easiest crime to catch your audience’s attention, but it’s not the only crime out there.

Dislikes: What is it with gangs? A bunch of children/teens gather together, and, it seems, to take on the weakest members of society. Does that say something about them?

Likes: Sherlock doesn’t talk down to his audience. He reminds me of someone who just has to explain how he came by his conclusions. That, and he seems to be a stickler for details, some of which most people would just glance over.

Favorite Character: It’s Dr. Watson. Through you won’t often catch a doctor like him today.

Favorite Scene: It was when Mr. Baker finally got his goose and hat again.

Conclusion: This was a fun book. Enjoy it with your family. After all it is a clean read.

Henry Hoffman’s On a Midnight Clear

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

Overview: Adam Fraley just wants to meet up with a friend for the holidays. But, getting lost on Christmas Eve was not part of the plan. Neither was finding a young girl alone at a cabin. Why is she alone? And has Adam stepped into a mess bigger than he can handle?

Story Telling: This is a mystery novella set during the happiest time of the year.

Likes: This was a first in many cases. The mystery wasn’t so much focused on murder as it was a different case. And Mr. Hoffman’s beliefs on adoption were a relief.

Adam has a strong sense of duty. And Noelle’s mother has a good idea about Christmas.

Favorite Character: It’s a toss up between Adam Fraley and Tamra Fugit.

Favorite Quote: Here you go. “It doesn’t have any name on it. My mom says you should always keep a spare present in case someone shows up that you weren’t expecting.”

Conclusion: This was a terrific story. Though this story might be better considered a side dish, rather than a main meal. Enjoy it when you have a few minutes this Christmas Season.

Kenneth Kirkeby’s Red Stick Two

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

Overview: The year is now 1986, and Virgil’s life has been domesticated–so to speak. He has a family, a ranch to call his own, and friends that he can lean on. So, what could possess him to return to work a job for his former CIA handler? Well: one missing man, one group of Maoists, and the fact that it just sounds exciting.

Story Telling: We have more of a political thriller with this one.

Dislikes: We still have the accents written out. That is never fun to read, either out loud or quietly. Also, Levkovitch asked Virgil to do the job in the wrong way. Once you’re married, you lose, or highly limit, the option to make ten second decisions for business purposes. Especially if those decisions involve potential death.

Let’s not think about all the conversations held in Spanish without the courtesy of a translation.

Likes: It was pretty cool to see how Virgil and Michelle chose to honor Tom Jay.

The relationship…er…banter might be a better word…between Creole and Virgil was fun.

And it is always good to see some people who are willing to fight for their rights.

Favorite Character: It’s Kurt Harris this time.

Favorite Quote: There’s not really one this time around.

Favorite Scene: It’s when Virgil has his conversations with Michelle.

Conclusion: While I prefer “Red Stick One”, this is a decent novel. Especially if the reader enjoys grittier novels. So consider the reader’s sensibilities first, then start this novel.

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

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.