The Blog's Mission

Wikipedia defines a book review as: “a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. A book review can be a primary source opinion piece, summary review or scholarly review”. My mission is to provide the reader with my thoughts on the author’s work whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. I read all genres of books, so some of the reviews may be on hard to find books, or currently out of print. All of my reviews will also be available on I will write a comment section at the end of each review to provide the reader with some little known facts about the author, or the subject of the book. Every now and then, I’ve had an author email me concerning the reading and reviewing of their work. If an author wants to contact me, you can email me at I would be glad to read, review and comment on any nascent, or experienced writer’s books. If warranted, I like to add a little comedy to accent my reviews, so enjoy!
Thanks, Rick O.

Monday, January 25, 2016


The author sent me a copy of her novel to read and review:

Is Aurora Fox the female equivalent of Dirty Harry? Maybe. Okay, I know Harry was constantly under pressure from his superiors for his illegal police actions and Aurora isn’t, but who cares? Not all novels have to be sensible or clear-sighted, do they? Do you think Marvel Comic characters, such as Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, or Wolverine are realistic? Of course not. Didn’t Mickey Spillane’s hero, Mike Hammer (see my review of I, the Jury on 9/18/2013) kill without any police interference? Doesn’t this novel (the way it is written) remind you a little bit of the movie Dick Tracy? So, what I’m trying to say is just enjoy the story. Yes, the writing is somewhat choppy (and with editing problems) but so what...just be entertained. Not all books are vying for the Pulitzer Prize. I think the author has some crumbs on her plate but to her credit didn’t write a rubber stamped novel. I don’t know if the author intended her novel to be of my persuasion or not, but this is how I see it, period. Enough already! What’s the story about?   

Noorilhuda has written a psychological thriller that some of the other reviewers don’t seem to like. Instead they are concerned that Detective Aurora didn’t go to counselling after shooting one of the kidnappers, or the author’s prose is bad, or her characters are not realistic. Does anybody know what’s really in the mind of a pedophile or serial killer? Whatever. Anyway the novel is cleverly broken down into four days...and a few days later. And what about the characters? We have Maxwell Caine, a wacko who is both the father and son, Detective Aurora Fox who is every bit as nasty as Dirty Harry and just as focused, DA John Smith who has severe hangups, and Daniel Logan’s parents, Josh and Helena, who have a very severe love-hatred relationship (heavy on the hate). I got carried away again and forgot to tell you what the story is about. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I thought the novel wasn’t treated fairly by a some of the reviewers. Okay, once again, what’s the story about?

Daniel Logan has been kidnapped and missing for over a week. Puppet maker, sixty-seven year old Maxwell Caine, tells Detective Aurora Fox that he knows who the kidnappers are. Based on his information, she burst into the home of Will Rogers and has a shootout with a Mr. Gonzalez (aka Charlie Coco) and Juno Babosa (a local waiter at a Chinese restaurant). Gonzalez is shot dead, Detective Fox is wounded. The boy, Daniel Logan (ten years old), has been sexually abused. It turns out that Gonzalez worked for Helena Logan (Daniel’s mom) and had an affair with her (so did most of the characters in this novel). The main perpetrator of the kidnapping is still at large...he who had the boy locked up and blindfolded while he did his thing with Daniel. Has this pedophile done this before? Detective Fox thinks so. The mysterious Maxwell Caine also thinks so (does he have a multiple personality disorder, or is he just a crazy person?). The story gets even more discombobulated.

Josh and Helena have a hateful argument over what happened to their son Daniel. Later, a car is pulled out of a canal’s Helena. She is still alive and rushed to a hospital, Josh is picked up by the police and questioned about his wife’s accident. The boy is temporarily turned over to friends of the Logans, DA John Smith and his wife. The DA wants the case closed quickly (why?) and objects to Detective Fox and Maxwell Caine (why is he involved?) pursuing the case. Detective Fox says to the DA that she thinks the suspect is still seeking Daniel because of the letters the pedophile has sent to her. Is he sending a message that he still wants Daniel? The DA on page 135 says, “The message being?” Detective Fox says, “That it isn’t over. That the boy is precious to them, him, whoever he is...and that the pedophile, the one who abused him, has old-fashioned taste.”

This is where I’m going to stop the review so you can buy your own copy of this brainteaser. I liked Noorilhuda’s novel and dismissed most of the flaws, but the only one that bothered me was in the chapter named Friday. Clearly Josh Logan was talking with Maxwell Caine, yet the character quoted was Ethan Maxwell (I know that they are the same person but throughout the book the two people were separated in their individual dialogues). But with all the twists and turns in this novel, maybe I'm getting confused (not!)...go figure. This has to be the first novel that I ever read where every character had some sort of emotional disorder or schizophrenia. Do I recommend this novel? Does a bear poop in the woods?

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Comment: I’m sure that my review will be heavily attacked on Amazon because I recommended the novel for what it was...a good story. Not every book has to be on the Bestseller List, does it? There were some items to criticize in Noorilhuda’s novel which I brought up, but overall I thought she was a good storyteller. And that is my main concern when reading and reviewing a novel. The prose and edit parts take a backseat to good old storytelling.

I’m only bringing this up because when I gave A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin’s last review five stars for A Dance with Dragons (see my review of 8/01/2011) and loved it...well the Amazon reviewers destroyed my review because they generally hated the novel. Even the idiots that gave one liner reviews like, “Great read” chimed in. Oh well.

By the way, the dictionary defines Catharsis as the process of releasing strong or repressed emotions. Touche Noorilhuda!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


This is the definitive dystopian novel that all challengers will be compared to. Hugh Howey has written the ultimate novel for this genre. Originally published in nine novellas through Amazon’s direct publishing system, it is now available in three novels...Wool, Shift and Dust by Simon & Schuster. It’s not my style to read a trilogy, but I’m tempted. I think the last time I read all the books of a series (other than A Game of Thrones, which isn’t over yet) was Arthur C. Clarke’s four novels of a Space Odyssey (the last one published in 1997). It’s been awhile. So, The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Divergent (Veronica Roth/see my review of 11/18/2013), and Delirium (Lauren Oliver) move over...there’s a new Sheriff in town (literally). There are other post-apocalyptic novels that deal with living underground, such as Jeanne Duprau’s The City of Ember (see Kai’s review of 11/9/2014), but not quite as exciting or elaborate as Wool. It’s not that the above mentioned novels are not great theme driven stories because they are, but Wool is uncommonly special. I guess that it’s the uniqueness of a society living in an underground silo with 144 floors in a caste system run by a mayor and a sheriff with the individual fear of being sent outside in a highly toxic atmosphere to clean the silo’s sensors and lenses as a death sentence. Wow, was that a long-winded Ernest Hemingway type sentence, or what? Okay, let’s talk about the story without divulging the exciting finish.

Since Hugh Howey kills off main characters as fast as A Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin does, I must tread carefully with this review. This novel is set in the future with a unknown post-apocalyptic happening. People live underground in a 144 floor silo (are there other silos?) ruled by a mayor and sheriff. The air outside is highly toxic and unbreathable. How this catastrophe happened is not divulged in this first book (supposedly Dust, the third book answers all questions). The story opens with Sheriff Holston suddenly requesting of Mayor Jahns (a good lady) that he wants to go outside and become a cleaner. Wow, that’s a death sentence, self imposed. His wife, Allison, had requested three years ago to are put in a space type suit made by the silo's IT department and sent outside to clean the lenses that the people inside the silo use to see the outside world. Allison had discovered files missing from IT’s servers that led her to believe that the air outside was not toxic and was a hoax to keep the people in the silo. She cleaned and walked towards the crumbling city and fell down to die, overcome by the fumes (or was it IT’s faulty suit that caused her death?). Sheriff Holston goes outside three years later, hopefully to find his wife living a normal life (by the way if you don’t leave the chamber to the outside quick enough, you are burned to death in the chamber...ouch) He decides to clean the lenses before heading up the hill to seek his wife. He finds his wife up the hill...dead. And he dies alongside her.   

Does this novel sound exciting? I want to tell you everything, but I can’t. Mayor Jahns and Deputy Marnes must now find a new sheriff. The two main endorsements are Peter Billings, a judge’s clerk, and Juliette from mechanical (the mechanical department occupies the lowest levels and keeps the electricity working). Juliette was instrumental in helping Sheriff Holston solve a previous case, so the mayor thought that she was a likely candidate for the job. The mayor and deputy (do they have a passion for each other?), although getting on in years, decide to make the trek down the 144 floors to meet the applicants. This is an exhausting trip, especially when they have to climb the 144 floors back up. On the way down the mayor stops at the nursery to find out why Juliette’s father hasn’t seen her in twenty years. The mayor finds out nothing. They continue down and stop at IT. The head of IT is Bernard (not a nice man) who wants Peter Billings as the next sheriff. According to the pact (undefined in this first novel), they are to agree on who the sheriff should be. Bernard is not pleased with the mayor’s choice but may reluctantly agree for the time being (is he scheming?). The mayor and deputy proceed downward toward the garden, farming, and bazaar floors till they reach mechanical. Juliette agrees to be sheriff as long as the mayor can declare a Power Holiday so they can refurbish the machines. Done deal. The threesome head upstairs to IT to get Bernard to sign off on the proposal. He refuses and has a co-worker sign the agreement. He also has the mayor’s and the deputy’s canteens refiled (with what?).

Okay, I can’t tell you anymore. It’s still very early in this 509 page novel. By page 148...the reader is stunned by what has happened. Hugh Howey knows how to get the reader’s attention. From what I’ve read, book three will reveal all the unanswered questions. What questions? Well, I think that I know the answers, but I would like to hear it from the author. For instance what is a chit? (money earned to be spent on something?), the pact? (the original laws of the silo when they went underground?), a shadow? ( an apprentice?) and the lottery? (the right to have a baby during a brief time frame?). This novel is a big time trip down to hell or a dreamland revived. You, the reader, will have to decide. Does it sound that I liked this novel? Is there a mustache in Mexico? Okay, I think you know that I highly recommend this novel. Buy it and enjoy!

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: It’s hard for me to avoid dystopian novels. I find authors continually sending me their novels coupled with my own desire to read the contemporary dystopian classic novels. When I was much younger, I didn’t even know what a dystopian novel was. What did I read? Well what about George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, or Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Did we know the that they were dystopian? By the way, I just dropped my pen...did you ever notice how hard it is to find it? Where does it go? Never mind.

Monday, January 4, 2016


The author sent me a copy of his novel to review:

Daniel Basil Lyle’s novel, while somewhat of a stimulating story, was sometimes a patchwork of confusing chapters. I know Mr. Lyle wasn’t trying to emulate the late Stieg Larsson (Stieg never saw any of his novels published before he sad) by using a book title similar to Larsson’s, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series). The prose was fair enough, but the story was sometimes a little herky-jerky. And, the plot was puzzling and muddled at times. I almost lost interest when two of the main characters (the old oriental man and the girl with the turtle tattoo) kept getting killed and reappearing in the ensuing chapters. Lyle’s novel wasn’t second-rate per se (I know I am being critical) because he did have a unique storyline, and it started to grow on me as I got half way through the novel. Learning how to write a novel is a very difficult task (as is reviewing), and I applaud Mr. Lyle’s effort. Okay, what’s the story about?  

Our protagonist is David King, a middle aged research scientist, trying to produce a field of condensed matter known as cold fusion (part time in his garage). King is a professor of physics at a junior college in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he is under fire from the Dean of Science. One day, he is at the grocery store and gets a c-note for change instead of a dollar from a cashier with a turtle tattoo on her wrist. Once he realizes that he got the wrong change, he goes back to the store only to find out from the manager that no such girl works there. What’s going on? And the manager tells King that his hundred dollar bill is play money. King takes his mom to her cancer treatment, and mom tells him that one of the patients said that her daughter has a turtle tattoo on her wrist, but mom can’t remember her name. Dave goes home and dozes off. At 7:45 pm, King gets a call from a unknown who says, “Your life is in danger. Get out of the house. Do it now! “ Once outside, an explosion blows up his garage and bedroom.

David King goes to the college to give his lecture. His class erupts into a fight and King is called into Dean Kelly’s office and is fired. As he is packing his office keepsakes, his friend, Prof. Johnson, tells King that the hundred dollar bill he gave him earlier to real except for the pictures on the bill! What is going on? FBI agents are waiting for King when he goes home. It seems that Homeland Security checks out all home explosions (was he building a bomb in his garage?). Mom calls and tells King what the girl’s name is and where she works. David King summarizes his day for his mom after she asks him what happened on page 60, “Nothing much, Mom,” he said as he got up from his seat. “Don’t be concerned! My garage burned down, my research is destroyed, I almost got killed, I started a race-riot at work, I got fired from my teaching job, and the FBI almost arrested me-but that’s it! Everything’s fine now! Love you! ‘Bye!” I thought that this particular chapter was well written and funny.

This novel is the first of a series yet to be completely released. By the way, kudos to Daniel Lyle’s mom for painting the picture used on the book’s cover. I loved it! The author’s credentials in life are outstanding, but I have to give the readers my opinion as I review a book. Whereas I stated my problems with the novel in the first paragraph, I, in no way, think that this novel is inferior. Anybody that has written 30 books (as Lyle has) deserves his proper respect. Yes, I would recommend this novel.

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Comment: Sometimes I think that I’m a little too rough on a novel. But all my life it seems to me that my “gut feeling” has always been right. Writing a honest review is what I try to do. You will never see me review a novel with the infamous one line, “Great read”, or :)...yes I have seen that symbol for a review many times. My job is to let the author know what I think he/she did right and wrong and at the same time entertain the reader of my reviews.
Is this the girl’s wrist?

Friday, January 1, 2016


This is a guest review from my 12 year old grandson Kai O:

Originally titled The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, the newly titled Robinson Crusoe is a piece of historical fiction. For a book that was written about 300 years ago, it has a uncommon goal...Defoe writes a book purely for entertainment, while most of the writers of those times wanted to educate the reader while telling their story. The book had an interesting format in some places. Defoe created graphs or lists within the story then changed at one point to a journal.  

The story starts with a young Robinson Crusoe asking his parents for their blessings to become a sailor. Although his parents deny him their blessings, he becomes a sailor anyway. On his first journey, nearly sinking, Robinson Crusoe is convinced that he will not be sailing again, although later in his life he decides on a second journey. His second journey was also a disaster. His ship was taken by pirates and sailed to Sicily. In Sicily, he was enslaved by a resident Moor. Later he escapes on a fishing boat with a slave named Xury. He escaped by sailing off when the slave master wasn’t looking. Soon they are rescued by a Portuguese ship captain, and Robinson Crusoe sells Xury to him.

When the ship gets to Brazil, Robinson Crusoe decides to stop sailing and start a plantation. Despite his plantation becoming quite successful, he soon joins an expedition to smuggle slaves from Africa. Unfortunately for Robinson Crusoe, but to no surprise to the reader, his journey goes horribly wrong. His journey is ended early when his ship is sunk in a storm, but he survives by clinging on to rocks. When the storm subdues, Robinson Crusoe makes it to a nearby island.
Now this is where the story ignites.

Overall, I liked this book. Daniel Defoe is a top-notch writer who has the ability to make his readers care for his characters. The story started slow, but it was still an attention grabber. In conclusion, I think this book demonstrated strong resilience from Robinson Crusoe while he faced some fearsome challenges. Unlike most books that I’ve read, I wouldn’t recommend this book to the general audience because of the complicated beginning. I would recommend this book to the advanced readers.

RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

Comment: Kudos to my grandson for writing another fine review on a classic novel. I can only imagine how good his book reports will be when he gets to high school in a couple of years from now.