Jane Austen’s Emma

Overview: Emma Woodhouse would seem to be a very modern woman, complete with the disinclination towards marriage. The thing is, this book is just about two hundred years old. But hey, does that really matter? Emma just wants to play matchmaker. Besides, her former governess has just married, and moved out of Hartfield. But, there’s this pretty, young woman living at Mrs. Goddard’s. She might be fun for an experiment.

Story Telling: We have a classical love story. And one of the first coming-of-age novels that ever existed.

Dislikes: Emma isn’t really a bad person, even at the beginning of the story, but her starting personality just rubbed me the wrong way. Both Mr. and Mrs. Elton were just wrong. No matter how influential, or wealthy, you are, you don’t get to over-run another’s get-together. Plus, if you make the mistake of who is returning your affections, you own up to it. Belittling the innocent is petty at the best, and cruel at the worst. But, what makes Mr. Elton so bad is that he is a preacher. What a hypocrite.

Frank Churchill was pretty sneaky with it came to his aunt.

Likes: George Knightley is one of the best parts of this novel. More on him later.

Robert Martin was tenacious when it cam to Harriet Smith.

Jane held a firm personality, and she’s pretty well described as an introvert.

Isabella doesn’t have much screen-time, so to speak, though whit her similarities to Mr. Woodhouse, this is a good thing. She was willing to help her sister out of a big mistake.

Favorite Character: George Knightley always tried to bring out the best that Emma could be. It appeared to be a thankless job at times, especially considering how Emma was raised.

Favorite Quote: When Mr. Woodhouse is lamenting on whether the boys will have to go home, Mr. Knightley has the best answer. ““No,” cried Mr. Knightley, “that need not be the consequence. Let them be sent to Donwell. I shall certainly be a t leisure.””

Favorite Scene: It’s when Emma tries to make amends to Jane.

Conclusion: This is a great coming of age story. Emma had a lot of growing up to do, and it shows how hard she worked at it.

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Melody Carlson’s Hidden History-Tales from Grace Chapel Inn 4

Overview: Meet the sisters who run Grace Chapel Inn. We have Louise–an elderly widow pining for grandchildren–, Alice–an elderly nurse, well part-time anyway–, and then we have Jane, a fifty-something with artistic flair. So what happens when Alice finds a journal of the late Pastor Daniel Howard? And what’s wrong with one of her old friends?

Story Telling: This is considered to be inspirational fiction. One could also call it Christian Fiction.

Dislikes: Grandfather Howard was given a raw deal in this book, even from his own son. Though, Daniel was understandable, as his journal was dated from when he was in high school. But, his daughters didn’t have much consideration for the fact that their Grandfather had lost so many in such a short time. Prohibition was between the two World Wars. One could easily get hooked on booze at the first lost. Besides, God doesn’t forbid booze. He just advises us not to be drunkards.

Both the small town citizens, as well as the former pastor’s family, were shown to be rather close-minded. Oh, sure they both seemed to care about those they saw on a day-to-day basis. But, if the person was an atheist, or having a bad day, then they didn’t show much compassion at all. It used to be that Christians sought out these types of people.

Likes: Creativity wasn’t treated like trouble waiting to happen.

And Grandpa Howard did try to encourage his children. Before you bring up the fact that he wanted Daniel to take up the farm, consider this: he was looking at losing his farm. Many men want their children to follow in their footsteps. As much as he groused about his son wanting to continue school, he did not force Daniel to quit.

Favorite Character: It’s Mark.

Conclusion: It may have been the fact that I don’t really care for Christian fiction, or I may have started with the wrong book, but this story isn’t for me. Maybe you’ll have better luck. Just keep a Bible with you when you read this one.

Rush Limbaugh’s The Way Things Ought To Be

Overview: Rush Limbaugh is better known as one of America’s premier talk radio hosts. Of course, he also happens to be rather conservative in his beliefs. Unabashedly conservative, even, so people either love or hate him. Want to see how Mr. Limbaugh thinks life should be working? It might be a fun trip.

Story Telling: This is a combination of a political commentary and a memoir.

Likes: For the most part, Mr. Limbaugh gives common sense solutions to many of the problems facing mainstream America. Let’s face it, whenever you throw money at a problem, the problem seems to grow bigger. It doesn’t seem like that’s the optimal solution.

Favorite Quote: This is something that we all need to chase away the negativity that life can throw at us. “ This country has not run out of opportunity. Your children can live in an America that is better, safer, more moral, and more prosperous.”

Conclusion: It appears as if Mr. Limbaugh is a controversial figure simply because he does not beat the drum for the DNC. Last time I checked, we should be able to judge all things for ourselves. The true question is: why would anyone be threatened by an opposing view?

Dean Koontz’s The Forbidden Door-Jane Hawk 4

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

Overview: Jane is in an even bigger mess than she feared. The Techno-Arcadians seem to have somehow weaseled out just who was taking care of Travis. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the boy has to be rather close as well. Jane’s fight to bring the Arcadians down is going to have to take a back seat for a little while. How exactly is she going to the to the most precious gift that she has left?

Story Telling: We have the fourth book in a technological horror series. With this one, it also leans towards a rescue story.

Dislikes: The Arcadians’ lack of empathy, common decency, or whatever you wish to call it, makes them people to never want at your back. It’s the height of arrogance to determine that those who have the slightest disability–mental or physical–somehow have lost the ability to live a full and satisfying life. Here’s the thing, God isn’t stepping aside for these morally disabled individuals.

There were a couple of chapters that were unsettling for me. Yes, this means that they were well written, but still, unsettling.

Likes: Cornell Jasperson was brave. Anyone who is willing to face his/her biggest fear, has to be considered such.

Bernie and Luther are back. These guys were fun the first time around.

Oh, the whole entire Texas side story was fun.

Favorite Character: This isn’t fair. There are just too many good people here. Let’s see…Luther?…no Bernie…no it’s the Longrin family…maybe Cornell? Like I said, way too many.

Favorite Quote: Random House/Bantam has asked that we not use any quotes until “The Forbidden Door” has been released.

Favorite Scene: It’s when Travis asked Cornell to read to him.

Conclusion: This was a terrific story. Now it’s time to wait for “The Night Window.” Enjoy the story.

David Baldacci’s The Fix-Amos Decker 3

Overview: Amos Decker is just walking to work, minding his own business, when he witnesses a brazen murder. Why had Walter Dabney killed Anne Berkshire? And why is the DIA telling the FBI to back off? Good luck with that last part, Agent Brown.

Story Telling: This is a marriage between a murder mystery and an espionage novel. As well as it is the third book in an on-going series.

Dislikes: Sometimes, you run into characters that you just don’t click with. Amos Decker and Alex Jamison are two of those characters for me. There’s a genius of a sort, and then there’s rudeness. Guess where these two landed.

As you may know, I’m a big proponent of the United States Constitution. I also know that murder investigations have to balance finding the truth with protecting the accuser’s Constitutional Rights. This book’s investigation seemed to, at the least, disregard people’s rights. My question is: if we lose our Rights for the so-called “greater good,” can we ever regain them? History isn’t very positive on that note.

And please, don’t get me started over Joey’s lot in this book.

Likes: Melvin Mars seems like a great guy.

And Amos, for all of his negative personality quirks, was trying to do the right thing.

Favorite Character: He didn’t have a very big part, not even a big enough role to warrant a name. He was just an old man sitting next to Decker in a café.

Favorite Quote: If I fill this section out, I ruin the story for you.

Favorite Scene: It’s the time Amos spends in the restaurants.

Conclusion: While this book was interesting, it just didn’t work for me . A lot of it did not line up with my tastes. Maybe you’ll have better luck with this one.

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.