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.

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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.

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.

Ellery Adams’s The Secret, Book & Scone Society

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

Overview: Nora Pennington has started over in Miracle Springs. It’s a nice town that’s well known for it’s healing springs and other spa treatments. Of course the spas aren’t the only treatment centers available. There’s the owner of the Gingerbread House, who can find a way to bake an important memory of yours into a scone. And Nora has her own therapy skill. If you have a problem, Nora will pick a list of novels that’ll help you through your situation. Unfortunately, the latest client has had an accident, maybe? Well, Nora isn’t so sure. And to find out what really happened, she is going to have to open up about her past to the other outcasts in town.

Story Telling: This is a cozy mystery. So there isn’t too much stress, and the investigation is more along the lines of the gossip mill.

Dislikes: Sheriff Hendricks is a jerk. I get it, he felt disrespected. But his reasons aside, two wrongs do not make a right.

Likes: Ms. Adams did not take the easy way out with her antagonists, and I’m using that term for anyone who puts a block to the investigation. She didn’t use caricatures, and made some interesting people to get to know.

The girls in the Society were well-rounded. And the book quotes were a great addition.

Favorite Character: It’s Hester and her aunt.

Favorite Quote: Referring to Hester, “To make food that seems so simple, but has an incredible complexity of taste and an ability to stir the heart? That’s a gift.”

Favorite Scene: It was when Jed helped Nora in Miracle Books.

Conclusion: This was a great book. It was fun to join these girls on their adventure. Enjoy it with your club.

Dean Koontz’s The Whispering Room-Jane Hawk 2

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

Overview: It’s been three days since the showdown at Bertold Shenneck’s Napa Valley ranch. Three days since Jane’s dear friend and mentor, Nathan, was killed out of mercy. Now Jane is looking for a way to put an end to David James Michael’s plans. But that one be easy. There’s no way of knowing who all are associated with his vision of a new world. And if Jane doesn’t wish to be a remote-controlled kamikaze bent on destruction, or, even worse, an Aspasia Girl, then she is going to have to keep both eyes open as well as a healthy sense of paranoia.

Story Telling: This is a technological thriller, though you could easily call it a technological horror story as well. It’s also the middle of–as of last count–a quadrilogy. So expect it to be slightly darker, but in the Dean Koontz method.

Dislikes: Booth Hendrickson, as well as all the other named Arcadians, needs a taste of his own medicine. Now, don’t take this to mean that I would rob him of his freewill. A little vial of colored sugar water, ice cold, would do the trick. Does that make me cold-blooded?

Likes: I’m not sure if you would call Jane’s fortune luck, or more like Providence. It was great to see so many good people in this book. As well, Mr. Koontz kept this story contained to the book. There is still enough of a conspiracy to fill two more books.

Favorite Character: Now this is a hard call. There’s Luther Tillman, a sheriff that wasn’t born yesterday. Ancel and Clare Hawk, Nadine and Leland Sacket, a couple who seeks to give all children the best chance they can get. Grandpa, and eighty-year-old with a great attitude. And of course, there’s Porter Walkins. Let’s not forget Gavin and Jessica Washington. So, who to pick? Who to pick? It’s got to be Luther. Don’t expect him to just take you at your word.

Favorite Quote: As Random House/Bantam Books requests that all quotes are to be compared to a release day copy of “The Whispering Room” and there’s a good chance that I’ll forget to return to this review, there isn’t one this time around.

Favorite Scene: Oh. Travis has his pony. He’s just a cute little cowboy. Grandpa was fun to travel with. And then there was Nadine’s meeting with Jolie.

Conclusion: This was a fun read. Let’s hope that Jane can find a way to defeat the Arcadians. Remember that the middle books of trilogies and quadrilogies tend to be similar to the middle of a regular novel. That’ll be where a lot of the struggle and conflict, the worries of failure will show up. Enjoy this one.

Carole P. Roman’s Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump-Oh Susannah 2

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

Overview: Susannah has figured out her helping problem. Now she has to figure out how to handle fear. Can she do it?

Story Telling: We have another early-reader chap-book.

Artwork: We have black and white illustrations at the beginning of the chapters.

Dislikes: Really, there were only two things that I had a problem with. One: Susannah seems to have a big problem with fear. One that seems overwhelming for anyone, much less a child.

And two: spiders can hurt you. Granted, most house spiders are not dangerous to people, but there are still the deadliest in America. The black widow and the brown recluse, and only one of them can be easily identify, if it’s the female.

Likes: Susannah was able to help her friends with many things.

Favorite Quote: I really don’t have one this time.

Conclusion: This book is kind of interesting. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Enjoy it with your young readers.

Ruth Emmie Lang’s Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

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

Overview: Weylyn Grey is an extraordinary man. He has lived with wolves, seems to have a knack for understanding any animal. Plants seem to thrive around him. And let’s not mention the weather. As remarkable as he is, can he find a way to talk to the woman he loves.

Story Telling: I would call this a magic realism/clean romance novels. Let’s face it, there are both magical and romantic elements in this one.

Dislikes: I had a few issues with this book. For starters, Weylyn seemed to be a coward. If he has, shall we call it a power failure, he would run. It’s easy to run. Sometimes, you have to cowboy up, and face the music. Yes, there were horrible consequences to his powers failures. Isolating yourself to learn control is admirable; isolating yourself to avoid temptation is not.

It seemed like Ms. Lang was trying to equate obsession with love. Don’t get me wrong. There are cases where utter devotion can seem like obsession, yet those cases are marriages that have withstood the test of time.

The only other problem I had with this book was with some of the ideas that were passed off as truth, yet were little more than politically correct prejudices.

One: Most home schooling parents are not teaching their children because they are either too bigoted or stupid to realize that public schools are the best. These parents almost always have their children’s best interests in mind. Also, they believe that some lessons that should be the parents’ job, not the schools.

Two: Not every Christian is a ‘young earth’ believer. Some of us not only believe in dinosaurs, we like them. We’re also glad that they are dead.

And three: Green energy just isn’t effective. Not only do you not get the electricity you would assume, they leave unintended consequences. For example: once the temperature reaches, I believe, ninety degrees, solar panels start losing power. Not to mention, windmills tend to kill the very birds you are trying to save. You might want to check me on this.

Likes: It may seem like this book went to the ‘dislike with a passion’ pile. It didn’t. There were many things that I liked.

Mary’s biology team, studying wolves, tried to pass on some good advice.

Weylyn found special people to become his extended family.

Duane showed that he was willing to do what it takes to save a life, as well as be a friend. Just remember a boss can be a friend, and still do things that might seem harsh.

Favorite Character: It would be Reverend Thomas Kramer. He showed the true spirit that Jesus asked of His disciples.

Favorite Quote: This might have been meant as a slam, but truth is truth. “When Mama met Weylyn, she was as sweet as syrup, which didn’t surprise me because she was raised in the Deep South, where hospitality is only second to Jesus.”

Favorite Scene: That would be the ever-growing forest. That would be a logger’s dream. No tree huggers, as the trees will be back by tomorrow.

Conclusion: This was a pretty good story. It just wasn’t to my tastes. It’s clean enough for a child to read but if you take that path, read it with them, so you can discuss what Weylyn did, or what they would do in that case.

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.

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.