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.

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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.

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.