eBook review: A Crafty Crime

A Crafty Crime (A Stoneybrook Mystery, #1)

A Crafty Crime by Eryn Scott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: Hadley James is finally living the life she’s always wanted: making jam and selling it at the local farmers market. When a cat-sitting job turns into a murder investigation, life no longer seems so perfect.

Her twin brother, a deputy sheriff, is on the case but they’ve always done everything together and she can’t help but get involved. Following a trail of crafty clues, the James twins learn that their sleepy town might be harboring more darkness than they could’ve imagined.

My review: I started reading this book in May and finished it in September. That possibly tells you everything. It certainly does me and explains the three-star rating.

I cannot put my finger on what was wrong, but I felt as if I had to drag myself through the pages. In all honesty, I did abandon it at one stage and then thought “no, I want to finish it” and returned to the story.

It’s a cozy mystery book so it makes sense that the main character, her twin brother and best friend set out to solve a murder in their town. However, a side theme in the book dealt with all things craft, such as making jam, knitting, painting. I love craft so I was fine with that too. However, the side theme wasn’t weaved into the storyline well enough (in my opinion). Because of that, I believe the craft side of the storyline distracted from the murder side. This meant that I wasn’t able to become totally absorbed by the mystery and basically I lost interest in the whole thing.

The author’s writing is good. The workings of the mystery and how it came together was good. But putting it all together didn’t quite work for me.

Book review: The Book of Three

The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain, #1)

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Taran wanted to be a hero, and looking after a pig wasn’t exactly heroic, even though Hen Wen was an oracular pig. But the day that Hen Wen vanished, Taran was led into an enchanting and perilous world. With his band of followers, he confronted the Horned King and his terrible Cauldron-Born. These were the forces of evil, and only Hen Wen knew the secret of keeping the kingdom of Prydain safe from them. But who would find her first?

My review: I borrowed this book from the library. What a gem! I am a kid at heart and love easy to read, adventure-filled, “good” stories. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered this book was actually written in the 1950s. Who would have known? Not I. It felt modern and fresh to me.

I loved the characters. They felt whole and real. They complimented each other. Each had their quirks, which made them stand out and enjoyable.

The plot was entertaining with its evil twists and turns. The world, the scenery, the storyline and the characters fit together like a well-worn glove. Honestly, I loved reading this book and recommend all young at heart read it.

Audiobook review: The Tower on the Rift

The Tower on the Rift (The View from the Mirror Series, #2)

The Tower on the Rift by Ian Irvine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: War rages across Santhenar as Aachim, Faellem and old humans pursue the Mirror of Aachan. A desperate Tensor, leader of the Aachim people, flees with it into the wilderness, taking the brilliant young chronicler Lilan with him. Only Karan can save him, though she’s not sure that she can help herself. Tensor wants her dead, the other powers are hunting her for her sensitive talents, and Rulke the Charon broods over them all from his Nightland prison. The Twisted Mirror holds knowledge that the world can only dream about. How will Tensor use it in the final confrontation? Will Llian be seduced by it too? Or will the Mirror betray them all, in the end?

My review: Book 2 in the series. Again, I could not “read” the book, but as an audiobook, it was quite good. In fact, this volume of the series saw some action and movement in the storyline. We live in an instant world these days, and the plot for some fantasy books can be painful.

Llian and Karan’s relationship is one of those stop and go situations. Sometimes it is one of them doing the stoping. And other times it is what is happening around them. I can’t accept their relationship as being real though. Or perhaps “deep” is the word, I should have used. It feels superficial. That may be intended or not. I don’t know, but I suspect not at this stage of the story.

Thankfully, the world’s history is no longer a problem. It is assumed we know that after book one and I’m pleased to say that we do not have to read it again.

Reading over what I’ve written makes me think I’ve given the wrong star rating as it sounds like I don’t like the story or characters at all. Yet, despite all I’ve said, I have gone on and listened to book 3 and I’m halfway through book 4 so something must have kept my attention.

eBook Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. . . . Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

My review: I was searching my local library ebooks and discovered this one. There was something about the cover and the blurb that pulled me in. I borrowed it and started reading immediately and read half the book in one sitting. And the second half of the book in a second sitting.

It’s the story of a china rabbit. He’s a bit stuck up, putting himself above all others. But life teaches him a lesson, and he learns what’s important in life.

I enjoyed this story. It was short and easy to read. I especially liked that it held my total attention while reading. However, more than that, it spoke to my heart and made me ‘feel’. It left me with blurred vision and the need to tell my loved ones that I love them. The author did an exceptional job writing this story. I recommend this book.

eBook review: The Happy Hollisters

The Happy Hollisters (Happy Hollisters, #1)

The Happy Hollisters by Jerry West

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: The adventures for the Hollisters begin as soon as they move into their new house on the shore on Pine Lake in Shoreham. First, the moving van carrying their toys and their father’s important new invention disappears. Next, they learn that their house may be haunted, with a treasure hidden somewhere inside!

Right away they all set out to solve these mysteries. Each one of the Hollister children – Pete (age 12), Pam (10), Ricky (7), Holly (6) and Sue (4) – plays an important role in finding clues, along with their parents who are always ready to join in on the excitement. Even Zip, the collie, and White Nose, the cat, are part of the family, and find thrilling adventures of their own.

As the Hollisters explore their new town and make friends, they discover what happened to the moving van, and learn more about the mystery surrounding their new home. Excitement abounds when a secret stairway is discovered. Then, on the trail of a mysterious intruder, their chase leads them to a deserted hut on nearby Blackberry Island.

My review: The writing is a bit stilted and old fashioned, but the book was written in the 50s so I can accept these things. Back then, children did things they wouldn’t dream of doing now (or their parents wouldn’t allow them to anyway), and I kept having to remind myself that things were different back then.

Letting those things go, I still enjoyed reading the first adventure of the Hollister children. They are well-mannered, polite children who have been taught values and morals. That is clear. I believe there’s no harm in allowing our children today to be exposed to these good characteristics; that some may say are dying off.

This is the first story in a collection of 33 (I believe). I do have a couple of others, although they are not books 2 and 3. I highly doubt I’ll read all 33 books, but parents who want their children to read nice stories should consider this series.

Ebook review: The Case of the Claymore Diamond

The Case of the Claymore Diamond (The Math Inspectors #1)

The Case of the Claymore Diamond by Daniel Kenney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: When the Claymore Diamond is stolen from Ravensburg’s finest jewellery store, Stanley Carusoe gets the bright idea that he and his friends should start a detective agency. 

Armed with curiosity and their love for math, Stanley, Charlotte, Gertie and Felix race around town in an attempt to solve the mystery. Along the way, they butt heads with an ambitious police chief, uncover dark secrets, and drink lots of milkshakes at Mabel’s Diner. But when their backs are against the wall, Stanley and his friends rely on the one thing they know best: numbers. Because numbers, they never lie. 

Join Stanley and his friends in this smart and funny first mystery in The Math Inspector series, perfect for kids ages 9-12. 

My review: I wanted something to read that was quick and easy. Something that held my attention and just took me for a ride, without having to work for it.

I saw this ebook and liked the premise, so decided to give it a try. Maths isn’t my thing and I was a bit concerned that might be an issue, but it wasn’t.

The author kept the pace going. The inspector team worked well together and I enjoyed the humour and the mystery side of the storyline. The book includes some black and white illustrations, which I felt complemented the story, and gave the author’s impression on what the four main characters look like. Again, I have no issue with that.

My only issue is that while the first ebook is free, the second ebook costs $6.49 for Australians to purchase, and that is expensive (in my opinion) for a digital book. I refuse to pay that so will be leaving the series here, which is a shame.

Audio review: A Shadow on the Glass

A Shadow on the Glass (The View from the Mirror, #1)

A Shadow on the Glass by Ian Irvine

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Once there were three worlds, each with their own human species. Then, fleeing out of the void came a fourth species, the Charon. Desperate, on the edge of extinction, they changed the balance between the worlds forever.

Karan, a sensitive with a troubled heritage, is forced to steal an ancient relic in repayment of a debt. It turns out to be the Mirror of Aachan, a twisted, deceitful thing that remembers everything it has ever seen. At the same time, Llian, a brilliant chronicler, is expelled from his college for uncovering a perilous mystery. Thrown together by fate, Karan and Llian are hunted across a world at war, for the Mirror contains a secret that offers each species survival, or extinction.

My review: I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided that I could not have finished this book if I had read it. However, for me, listening to certain types of books is different.

My biggest issue was that parts of the storyline, especially the world’s history, were drawn out. Too lengthy for me. To be honest, I didn’t want to know in that much detail. Some people do, and you can’t please everyone. I realise that typically, fantasy books are inclined to do that, but it’s not something I enjoy (any more). Lengthy descriptions of any type are boring.

That aside, after some listening, I grew attached to Llian and Karan. And to be frank, I wanted to know what adventure they would experience. Llian can be a bit annoying, but I’m sure he’ll grow into someone worthy by the end of the series. We all have our ways, and we learn from experience. Llian hasn’t had it easy, but I wouldn’t say he’s had a hard life either. At least he had a roof over his head and had some semblance of normality.

In comparison, Karan’s life was harder and lonelier, which gives her the tools to look after herself in a world about to go to war (mostly). The two together manage to figure out what to do to survive.

Of course, other characters upset their plans. Some help them, some are loyal, and others betray. The mix makes for an interesting story (once all the description is pushed aside).

I’m halfway through book 2. Persevere, it gets better.

Ebook review: When Hope Springs New

When Hope Springs New (Canadian West #4)

When Hope Springs New by Janette Oke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: Leaving behind their dear friends in Beaver Creek, Elizabeth and Wynn take over an even more primitive RCMP outpost in the Canadian Northwest. Elizabeth finds herself totally isolated when the local Indian women are afraid to even communicate with her. The Delaneys thought they had already faced the most crushing disappointment of their lives when they saw little Sammy disappear from view in the arms of his father. Would they be able to survive the challenges ahead?

My review: The fourth book in the series takes Elizabeth and Wynn away from Beaver Creek and even further north. They end up living in an Indian village, in a shack with a dirt floor. The Indians in the village are superstitious and will not talk to Elizabeth. However, being used to having a Mounty around, they are civil with Wynn. Due to a change of events, Elizabeth and the rest of the village find themselves homeless and that’s when everything changes

Some of the story line I felt was far-fetched. Other sections I felt were too convenient. Overall, I continued to keep reading because of my dedication to the couple. I wanted to see where their story would end up.

I have no regrets and I felt satisfied with where this book ended. And I made the decision not to read the last two books in the series. Why? Reading some online reviews I believe the last two books in the series are not about Elizabeth and Wynn, but follow story lines concerning their adoptive children. Once I discovered that, I decided that (for me) the Canadian West series was complete.

The first book was great. The second very good. The third and fourth were not bad, but started to dull a bit. Having said that I still recommend them. I’m glad I read them.