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.

Advertisements

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.

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 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.