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.

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Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library-Miss Marple 3

Overview: The Bantrys are a rather well-to-do family in St. Mary’s Mead. So, imagine the scandal that hits when a young woman is found in the library. Did I mention that she is dead? Lucky for them, Miss Marple can’t resist a good mystery. Why were the Bantrys picked to take the fall? And who is the girl?

Story Telling: We have another British manor mystery. If it’s called something else, please let me know.

Dislikes: The benefits of a small town–the closeness, the gossip mill, the affordability–can also sometimes be the downfall. Nobody wants to be on t he wrong side of the gossip mill.

Likes: Miss Marple has quite a way of thinking. She was unwilling to let an innocent man hang.

Colonel Bantry and Mrs. Bantry both showed great character.

Favorite Character: It’s Conway Jefferson. He was willing to give his children the best start in their lives.

Favorite Quote: A perfect quote for a mystery. “Human nature is very much the same anywhere, Sir Henry.”

Favorite Scene: Oh, that would be when Miss Marple was playing door-to-door solicitor for the church.

Conclusion: This was a fun little mystery. Though, Miss Marple is more suited to the cozy mystery fans.

Carole P. Roman’s Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag-Oh Susannah 1

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

Overview: Susannah has a problem. Her math homework is unfinished, she has gotten an unwanted invitation to a slumber party at a creepy house, and both have been hidden away in her book bag. And the problems keep piling on. How much can one bag take? And can Susannah find out how to take care of her problems?

Story Telling: This is an early-reader chap-book. Probably around second grade, maybe. It depends on your reader.

Artwork: What illustrations exist are mostly in black and white.

Dislikes: Susannah’s family needs help. She doesn’t seem to be understood by either side.

Likes: Susannah did find some help for her problems.

Favorite Quote: I can’t really find one without spoiling the story. Not good for such a small book.

Conclusion: This one was pretty good, even if it did get a little more serious than I’d prefer. Enjoy it with your young reader.

Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived In…Cuba

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

Overview: It’s time for another trip. This time we’re heading for one of the hold-overs of the Cold War, Cuba. What will we learn on this trip?

Story Telling: We have a new cultural travelogue.

Artwork: This one has semi-realistic illustrations mixed with photography.

Likes: This cultural book was kept more simplistic in terms of both particular words, as well as some of the day-to-day living conditions.

Conclusion: This was an interesting book. Just remember to do your own research, as there is more to any nation’s culture. Enjoy it with your travelers.

M. J. Arlidge’s Little Boy Blue & Hide and Seek-Helen Grace 5 & 6

I received these books for the purpose of fair and honest reviews, even if I’m treating them as one over-long book, just because he did.

Overview: Helen Grace is facing a nightmare from her past. People, who she has hired in the past, have been murdered. Guess how is the chief suspect. Helen’s track record should help keep her out of prison, right? I wouldn’t hold my breath. Maybe her team will have her back. Of course this is all predicated on Helen surviving prison. Especially, since there seems to be another serial killer operating with a captive audience.

Story Telling: These books are police procedurals, even if one takes place in prison.

Dislikes: I was really hoping that Mr. Arlidge wasn’t going to trash every Detective Superintendent that Helen Grace had. That didn’t work out. First Whitaker, then Harwood, and now Gardam? Why were those who were supposed to have some of the highest regard for life, be it of the suspect or the victims, shown to have no regard for the lives of their own people?

Not only that, but if you are a man in this series, you better be a doormat. If you’re not, you’ll be portrayed as a misogynist, a killer, or a scumbag.

Emilia hasn’t learned one thing in her career. She only knows how to destroy lives.

And has anyone thought about testing Helen for sociopathy?

Likes: Charlie is one of the best people in this series. She wasn’t willing to just buy Helen’s innocence, nor was she fast in betraying her boss.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote & Scene: I don’t have one this time around.

Conclusion: This series started strong, kind of like “Criminal Minds” based in England. Unfortunately, it seems to have gotten dark for the sake of darkness. If you continue the series after “The Doll’s House,” you are going to need to have a favorite in Helen Grace herself. I hope you enjoy it.

M. J. Arlidge’s Liar, Liar-Helen Grace 4

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

Overview: Helen Grace is on a brand new case. Somebody is starting fires. Three of them in one night. Two are at business properties, and the third is at a family home. What is the purpose of these fires? Is someone just having fun, albeit a sick form of it, or is it something far more nefarious?

Story Telling: We have another police procedural from England.

Dislikes: This book seems to push the idea that those born with disabilities shouldn’t be allowed to live. But, that’s not fair. It may seem cold, but children with epilepsy and cerebral palsy usually have a lot of medical bills. The easy path would have been for the Harrises to opt for an abortion, but they didn’t. They cowboyed up, and took responsibility for their actions. They worked themselves to the bone for their son. They hired people so that he was never alone. Does anyone have the right to damn the parents because they hired a bad care-giver? Did you know that dinner parties are how some business owners gain new clients? As far as I’m concerned Michael and Jacqueline Harris were treated unfairly at best.

And Emilia Garanita is a sick monster. There is no reason to take such pleasure in ruining somebody’s life like she does.

Likes: There were several people showed great strength. It’s hard to take responsibility for your actions in this day and age, and it’s refreshing to see such examples as Denise Roberts, Mandy Blayne, the Harrises, and the Simmses.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote: Okay, so it’s not from this book, but it’s so applicable. “In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But everyone shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” Jeremiah 31:29-30, King James version. The emphasis is mine. There is another passage just as powerful in the whole chapter of Ezekiel 18.

Favorite Scene: It would be Charlie’s Christmas party.

Conclusion: This isn’t one of the better Helen Grace novels. And, while I was disappointed in the way the story unfolded, it is still a decent story.

M. J. Arlidge’s The Doll’s House-Helen Grace 3

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

Overview: Helen Grace has gotten a, perhaps unpleasant, distraction from her search for her nephew. A woman was found buried on a beach. How long has she been buried out there? It’s a surprise even to her closest family members. She’s still tweeting her life away. How long has this been going on? And does it have anything to do with the girl who recently went missing?

Story Telling: Once again we have the England-based police procedural.

Dislikes: I don’t understand Ceri Harwood. Helen wasn’t trying to interfere with Harwood’s career, her only job was to stop killers.

Lloyd Fortune was put in a bad position. I hope his decisions don’t harm his career.

Likes: Charlie is pregnant again. Yay! And Helen is starting to trust…somewhat. She can get better, maybe. And Ruby had some fight in her.

Favorite Character: This time it’s Caleb Fortune. Sometimes the hardest thing is to admit to a dark truth in order to show a loved one the way.

Favorite Quote: Not this time either.

Favorite Scene: Ruby’s escape attempt would be it. The girl has guts.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. Have fun joining the investigation.

M. J. Arlidge’s Pop Goes the Weasel-Helen Grace 2

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

Overview: It’s been a year since DI Helen Grace has been forced to face down a serial killer. Now it appears to be starting all over again. Men are being found in very compromising areas, and they aren’t the only ones suffering the consequences. Can this situation end any better than the last one?

Story Telling: This is another semi-dark police procedural. And yes, Helen hasn’t left England yet.

Dislikes: I have two problems with this novel. Let’s start with the major one first. There is a Christian denomination referenced in this book, the Christian Domestic Order to be precise. Now, I couldn’t write this review before I looked this denomination up. See, I thought the denomination was invented for the book. Unfortunately, that is only part of the truth. The Christian Domestic Order is called something else in the world, and it did originate in England. Yet the portrayal of this order in the book was much more violent than those who choose this order truly act. As it is, this book seems more inline with a certain Middle-Eastern religion, than straight-forward Christianity.

And then there was Emilia. The nicest way to put her in this book was that she was a pain. My reading partner has a very unladylike assessment of her. Yes, the public has a right to know if a serial killer is hunting in their neighborhoods. That right ends where the victims’, their families’, and other innocent bystanders’ rights begin. Some times you swallow your pride, and the story if you cannot get it without destroying an innocent’s life.

Likes: Charlie was still a good person to follow. We saw just how bad the situation in the last book affected her, and how she dealt with the fallout. She wants to do the right thing. Helen tried to do the best thing for her nephew.

Favorite Character: It’s Charlie.

Favorite Quote: I don’t know why I can’t find one here.

Favorite Scene: The best part was the epilogue. It was sweet.

Conclusion: This might be a novel that causes Mr. Arlidge to lose some of his readers. They must remember that Mr. Arlidge is British, as such, he gives a British point-of-view on Christianity, which might not be the same as America’s. And that’s sad, because it’s a good book. When it comes to the Christian aspects, try to picture the guy as someone who doesn’t represent Jesus very well. After all, it is a police procedural, and not all professing Christians are Christian-like. It’s another good book by Mr. Arlidge. I’m looking forward to the next.

M.J. Arlidge’s Eeny Meeny- Helen Grace 1

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

Overview: Something has gone very wrong in Southampton. Two people are being kidnapped and left with a horrible choice. They are left in an isolated area with no food, no water, and a gun with only one bullet. What kind of person derives pleasure from such a sick game? And can Helen Grace’s team stop the game before any more participants are forced to play it?

Story Telling: This is a police novel, albeit one of the more gritty forms. As well, this novel is based in England. I guess Southampton kind of gives that part away.

Dislikes: It’s mostly the gore. Sometimes, the story requires it, as in this case. It’s just disturbing.

Likes: Mr. Arlidge did something that marks him as a true international writer. He makes sure that the readers from outside of his country were well-aware of what the abbreviations meant. And I thank him for that.

Charlie and Mark were pretty cool, even if they both had their own problems to deal with.

Now, back to the gore. It isn’t over the top, nor in brutal detail. It’s kind of, not really glossed over, but implied without beating you over the head with the amount of detail. It makes for a more enjoyable read.

Favorite Character: It will have to be Mark Fuller.

Favorite Quote: Sorry guys, I couldn’t find one this time around.

Favorite Scene: I enjoyed joining Charlie when she found out that she was pregnant.

Conclusion: There is some hope in this book. And, it’s an interesting, as well as a clean, read. Enjoy it if you like police procedurals, or foreign mysteries.

Ronald Rice’s My Bookstore-Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop

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

Overview: With commercial giants like Barnes and Noble, or online monoliths like Amazon, is there still a market for the community, independently owned bookstores? According to the essays in this books, they sure do. Let’s follow these authors on a cross-country journey to some of their favorite bookstores.

Story Telling: This is a book of essays, but don’t let that put you off. Where else will you find an essay in the form of a comic strip?

Dislikes: The only problem I had was that a few authors allowed politics to, well, envelop every aspect of their lives, or at least it seemed that way. But, outside of God and family, I don’t think that anything should envelop your life to this extent.

Likes: It’s refreshing to hear that neither the printed books nor the bookstores are doomed. That is just hopeful for those dreaming of seeing their books in print.

Favorite Quote: Here’s a good one. “I write because I have to, because when I don’t, I feel as if I’m losing my sense of self.

Favorite Essay: Those would be the ones written by Kristen Harmel, Carolyn Hart, and the joint essays by Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown, and Wendell and Florence Minor.

Conclusion: This is a great book for the aspiring writer to read. And enjoy it even if you are one of those who enjoy the company of loaded bookshelves.