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.

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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.

H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror

Overview: The town of Dunwich has a pretty sordid past. The city is know for accusations of witchcraft. The decadent Whateleys are known to be some of the worst practitioners. So why is Wilbur Whateley growing so fast? And why is he living in a shed, instead of his large, boarded up house?

Story Telling: We have a supernatural horror this time around. And hard to review, as are most short stories. You run the risk of ruining the tale for others. Here’s hoping I succeeded in not doing that one.

Dislikes: The Whateleys–Wilbur and his grandfather in particular–were treasonous. That’s the best way to explain it.

Likes: Henry Armitage was a brave man. He stood up for what was right, and in his seventies as well.

Now take this with a grain of salt. From how it appears, and from what I’ve heard, Mr. Lovecraft wasn’t an atheist in the vein of Mr. Dawkins. Of course, this is if he was an atheist at all. Sometimes people of today can mistake what someone’s beliefs about a higher power is. He did, however, have a problem with those who would betray their fellow man for the sake of their would-be gods. The One True God does not ask us to sacrifice our neighbors, nor humanity as a whole in order to gain His favor.

Conclusion: This was quite the interesting tale. And it’s clean enough for the whole family to enjoy. Enjoy the scares, especially around Halloween.

Lee Child’s A Wanted Man-Jack Reacher 17

Overview: All Jack wants to do is head for Virginia. Was that too much to ask? Apparently so, because he was picked up by a group of three similarly dressed individuals. Coincidently, there was a violent murder not too far away. Well, Virginia can wait for a bit. As it is, Jack does enjoy a good puzzle. But, will his traveling companions agree with his sentiments?

Story Telling: We have another thriller from Mr. Child.

Dislikes: It’s what the FBI did to Sheriff Victor Goodman. That was so wrong. One could even call it evil. But, what else do you expect from those who no longer are concerned with supporting our Constitution?

Also, it appears as if Mr. Child decided to push his beliefs about what happens at the time of death. In my opinion, if your story isn’t about ghosts or the afterlife, leave the transpiring at the time of death from another’s point-of-view.

Likes: Reacher did not quit when Karen needed his help.

And Victor Goodman is one of the good ole boy sheriffs with a fascination with note-taking.

Julia Sorenson does have a healthy suspicion of all of those involved with or in her cases.

Favorite Character: Victor Goodman was the best guy in the whole book.

Favorite Quote: When referring to Sheriff Goodman: “He was a nice man. A good man, like his name.”

Favorite Scene: It was when Victor went looking for the eye-witness’s truck.

Conclusion: This is an okay book. While it’s an entertaining read, you need to really like Jack by the time you get to this addition to the series.

Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights

Disclaimer: Let it not be said that I have completed this novel. At the halfway mark, I skipped to the final chapter.

Overview: Wuthering Heights is the manor that houses Lockwood’s landlord. Heathcliff seems to be a solitary-inclined miser on first glance. Though, it doesn’t take too long for his temper to betray that façade. What is the cause of the man’s anger? Does the old maid-servant, that waits upon Lockwood, have any knowledge that can shine a light on the situation?

Story Telling: This book is a gothic horror. As far as I know, it was one of the last entrees to the genre. So, we should probably be expecting it to show up again pretty soon.

Dislikes: Here’s the thing. I’m not against horror stories. Monsters, ghosts, natural threats, they can work very well in both cinematic and novel forms. It’s spending too much time in the minds of the sociopaths and psychopaths that turn me off. Nihilism, much like some of today’s horror authors seem to enjoy, is another way to lose my interest. Heathcliff’s revenge oriented mind, was cruel in the best of days, and out-right malicious in others.

Likes: Miss Bronte had a way of describing situations and scenery. She could make the mood and vibe work together in order to make the story seem real. That was her gift as an author.

Favorite Character: That would be the elder Earnshaw, at least until Joseph got his hooks in on the family.

Conclusion: This book will be reader specific. If you like the darker tales, give this one a shot.

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.

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.