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.

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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.

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.

Dean Koontz’s The Crooked Staircase-Jane Hawk 3

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

Overview: Jane has been on her run, both from the Techno-Arcadians as well as her quest to bring the entire conspiracy to justice, for two months now. She has a new target of the conspiracy in her sights. It seems like her enemies have doubled down on their resources as well, all in order to bring her to heel. Will Jane manage to keep up her momentum? And is Travis as safe as she hopes?

Story Telling: We’re in the middle of Jane’s fight in this techno-thriller.

Dislikes: This book is one of the darkest that I’ve come across from Mr. Koontz in a while. Part of this is the fact that we’re in the middle of the Arcadian war. The rest of it involves the Shukla twins side story. That aspect seemed like it was added for the dark-factor, though it did bring up some aspects of the nanoweb enslavement.

Likes: Gavin and Jessica Washington work so hard to keep Travis safe.

Cornell is something else. He is willing to help his cousin, but the guy is definitely a loner.

Favorite Character: It’s Gavin and Jessica.

Favorite Scene: This time it would be the horseback ride that Gavin took Travis on.

Favorite Quote: I really couldn’t find one. That’s not very common in a Dean Koontz book.

Conclusion: This is a difficult book to get through, though it is necessary to read if you are interested in seeing Jane’s war to the end.

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.

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.

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.