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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Dean Koontz’s Deeply Odd–Odd Thomas 6

Overview: Odd just needs some new clothes. Is that really too much to ask? Well someone, who wishes to supplant Glenn Campbell as the rhinestone cowboy, seems to think so. He has a nasty surprise. It’s a surprise that involves fire, but no birthday cake. Good thing that Annamaria is okay with Odd not coming back to the cottage for quite a while.

Story Telling: The Odd Thomas series is written in the style of memoirs, but there is also quite a bit of paranormal activity involved as well. Please don’t think that I’m referring to the movie, as I have never seen the Paranormal Activity series.

Dislikes: The would-be cowboy deserved a whole lot worse. With the crime being so unthinkable, I might be a little bit biased.

Likes: Mrs. Fischer was a fun little woman. She held more than enough courage to do what had to be done. Yet she always had a ready smile for those around her.

I’m pretty sure that I know what Annamaria is. Word of warning: whenever Mr. Koontz has the afterlife referenced in his books, he also includes a heavily religious theme. And the Odd Thomas series has more than just referenced the afterlife. By this book, you really ought to expect that from Mr. Koontz.

Favorite Character: It’s Edie Fischer.

Favorite Quote: There are two of them this time. Here’s one for the activists out there today: “The world howls for social justice, but when it comes to social responsibility, you sometimes can’t even hear crickets chirruping.”

This probably would never fit a motivational calendar, but it’s important advice. “The thing to understand is that you have to do what you have to do, always and without complaint.”

Favorite Scene: Once again, there are two. One was the house that Odd and Mrs. Fischer took the survivors.

And the other was the discussion that Odd held with the Kens concerning the Baptist preacher and his wife conceal carrying. There was no self-awareness with those two.

Conclusion: This was a decent story. Though, I suspect that it would have been more enjoyable if I had read books four and five. And no, you cannot talk too much about “The Lord of the Rings,” unless you’re talking about the…movies.

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.

Dean Koontz’s The Silent Corner-Jane Hawk 1

Overview: Going off-grid isn’t as easy as anyone might think. Most of the newest technology, if not all of it, is easily tracked. You have to be dedicated to shunning it. Jane Hawk has that dedication. She has to. Two months ago, her happy, optimistic husband, Nick, committed suicide in their bathroom. The thing is, his note was weird to those who read it. And like any good investigator working in law enforcement, Jane digs into it. Maybe ‘They’ shouldn’t have threatened her.

Story Telling: We have a ‘dark government’ type of thriller this time. Too bad it’s the beginning of a series.

Dislikes: The ‘They’ in this book needs a clear cut case of karma. No member of humankind deserves, is owed, or has the right to play ‘god.’ I don’t always like the results of God’s ordering of the world, but at least we actually have choices.

Likes: Jane has a drive to stop evil that is very much admirable. As well, she was able to find friends in the most unlikely of places.

Nathan Silverman seemed to have a strong sense of right and wrong. That and his drive for justice, made him a great man.

Favorite Character: Now this is a toss-up between Nathan and Dougal. Nathan was willing to give a friend the benefit of the doubt. And Dougal has yet to find a good cause that he doesn’t like.

Favorite Quote: Here’s one for those who wish to twist Scripture as a reason to hate the rich. “Wealth had not corrupted him. What he’d chosen to do with his wealth corrupted him.”

Favorite Scene: It’s the time that Jane spent with Travis. The little guy wasn’t sure of what he wanted more, riding or Mommy.

Conclusion: Keep in mind that this is the beginning of a series. So, it will be a slow start. If you can get by that, it’s a great book.