Review: The Treasure at Poldarrow Point

Title: The Treasure at Poldarrow Point (Angela Marchmont, #3)

Author: Clara Benson

After solving two cases in close succession, Angela Marchmont is struck with a nasty case of pneumonia. Her doctor has ordered a rest cure at the sea side, so she’s headed to Cornwall. She’s barely unpacked when her impulsive goddaughter has shown up and discovered a local story of buried treasure.

Naturally, young Barbara has decided that would be the perfect project for their summer holiday. Angela is reluctant at first, but she gets caught up in the lives of the local residents. There’s a sweet old lady and her nephew, a quarrelsome married couple, an odd scientist, and an attractive Scotland Yard detective all involved in the events nearby.

The lighthearted treasure hunt takes a deadly turn when someone takes a shot at Angela and Barbara goes missing.

This one was my favorite in the series so far. The others were rather predictable, but not in a terrible way. This one I was actually caught off guard more than once. I thought I had it figured it out, but there were several surprises in there. I have already downloaded the next one in this series. If you like the British mysteries, this series is so much fun.

Review: The Murder at Sissingham Hall

question-mark-1750942_960_720Titles: The Murder at Sissingham Hall and The Mystery at Underwood House, Angela Marchmont books 1 & 2

Author: Clara Benson

Setting: England, 1920s

Looking for a mystery along the lines of Hercule Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey or Albert Campion? These might just be right up your alley. They have the fun of the Lady Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn.

Our sleuth is Angela Marchmont, a charming divorcee who has a bit of a past with British espionage, although this is disappointingly vague. The first book involves the murder of a wealthy gentleman during a house party, just when his wife’s former beau has returned to England from making his fortune in Africa. The second book is about a mysterious family curse that’s wiping out the members of the Haynes family once per year and the family reunion has struck again. Angela is on the scene, with a little obliging help from Scotland Yard, but I found it much too obvious who the culprit was in each case.

These are the kind of comforting reads that I gravitate towards when I need something soothing and light, something where it all works out in the end and my brain doesn’t have to work too hard. It’s the literary equivalent of chicken soup and crackers, or a nice bowl of ice cream. Maybe that’s not fair, but sometimes that’s just what I want. These are available through Kindle Unlimited too, so they’re worth trying.

Review: Murder at Sedgwick Court

Title: Murder at Sedgwick Court, Rose Simpson book 3

Author: Margaret Addison

Genre: historical cozy mystery

Setting: Sedgwick Court, England, 1930

Rose Simpson and her beau, Cedric the Earl of Belvedere, are hoping for some quiet time enjoying each other’s company. (Suitably chaperoned, of course.) But Lady Lavinia, the earl’s sister, comes home from France bringing her own house party with her. A love triangle soon develops and before long, a young woman is murdered. Scotland Yard arrives to investigate, but of course, it’s Rose who solves the case.

These are fun, very light mysteries that are good to read when you want something fluffy. There’s not a lot of substance and certainly no realism, but that’s kind of the point. I enjoyed this one and I’ll probably forget about it within the week.

Review: Puss Without Boots

Title: Puss Without Boots, Fairy Tale Kingdoms #1

Author: Shari L. Tapscott

Genre: fairy tale romance

Themes: true love, magic, work, trust

Suzette, also called Etta, is the youngest child of the miller. Now that her aunt has passed, she left the mill to the oldest child, the donkey to the middle child, and Suzette – well, she gets the cat and some money – to buy boots for the cat. Suzette is less than thrilled. She uses the money to buy herself some boots.

But a few weeks later when Etta takes her first day off, she discovers that this is no ordinary cat. Puss can talk. He doesn’t mind about the boots, but he had definite plans for Etta. Plans that involve teaching her to hunt and stop spending time with the new chocolatier, Beau.

I really liked this book. After a string of books that I was only lukewarm about, this one won me over with it’s charming story and characters. Etta is such a refreshing change from so many stupid characters! And Beau, I mean come on, he has a chocolate shop! Plus their relationship developed slowly enough that I really cared about them as a couple.

This was a very quick read. I’m definitely recommending this one if you like clean fairy tale romance, and I’m pleased to see that she has several other books out. The next one is about Rapunzel.

Review: Skinwalker

Title: Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock #1)

Author: Faith Hunter

Recommended by: My sister

Format: Audio

Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance

Jane makes a living as a vamp killer, but this is her first trip to New Orleans, and the culture there is well, different. Vampires are a major tourist attraction. The vamps have even banded together and set up houses. Some of them are ‘sane’ and accepted as members of society. But one has gone rogue and taken to killing – and eating – the tourists. And that’s not cool.

It’s Jane’s job to hunt this rogue down and kill him, and she’s got 10 days if she wants the bonus. (She does.) Lucky for her, she’s got a secret weapon – her Beast partner. Jane is a Skinwalker, thanks to her Cherokee heritage, and she can shift form into an animal. But this hunt is going to be her toughest yet.

I really wanted to like this book. I got it on audio on my sister’s recommendation. But I’m afraid I didn’t like it nearly as much as she did. I found Jane a little too cocky, her Beast form irritating, and I was put off by the amount of sexual undercurrent that ran throughout the whole book. In fact, I don’t think there was a single person who wasn’t discussed as a possible romantic/sexual partner for Jane. Like, take a cold shower already!

I liked the basic idea, but nothing about the book stood out in any good way. I was hoping I’d love it, since it’s the beginning of a long series, but it sounds like they’re all basically like this one. So, if I don’t like Skinwalker, I’m not going to like the rest. I feel like I’ve been on a losing streak lately – too many disappointments in a row. I’m not really enjoying any of the other books I’m reading right now either. Maybe I’m having an off week. Anyhow, I can’t recommend this one. But I’m didn’t hate it either. 2.5 stars out of 5, nice and average.

Review: Midnight Pearls

Title: Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of the Little Mermaid (Once Upon a Time #4)

Author: Debbie Vigiue

Genre: fairy tale, YA romance

reprinted review

I am a big fan of the retold fairy tale, so I was happy to find this series of familiar tales and fables rewritten for teens. I just finished this one yesterday, and I enjoyed it. Finneas is out fishing one night when a terrible storm blows up. Just when he is ready to give up and surrender to the sea, he spots a child floating in the ocean. He rescues the girl and together with his wife, they raise the girl as their own. They name her Pearl. It’s a promising beginning, and I did enjoy the book. It’s not really anything unique, pretty much a classic tale. All the regulars from the original story are there – the handsome prince, the Sea Witch – but there are a few twists. I read it in a day, a quick fun story.

If you like this genre, I can recommend some titles from the ‘Once Upon a Time’ series. Overall, the writing is uneven. Some of the stories are really well done. My favorites are The Storyteller’s Daughter (1001 Nights), Sunshine and Shadow (The Magic Flute), and Golden (Rapunzel). Before Midnight, based on Cinderella, is my very favorite. But there are a few I just couldn’t read, one based on Little Red Riding Hood that has her falling in love with the wolf, and some one I can’t remember set in France during World War I. I got this one at the library.

 

Review: Anne of Green Gables

Title: Anne of Green Gables (Avonlea #1)

Author: L. M. Montgomery

Themes: challenges, family, coming of age, friendship, religion

Setting: Prince Edward Island, Canada early 1900s

Plot: Anne Shirley is not the boy the Cuthberts were expecting from the orphanage, but she was just what they needed to turn their lives upside down.

Review: I read this classic when I was a little girl and I was charmed. I think Anne would have been my “bosom friend.” I had the same vivid imagination, but I wasn’t as outgoing and talkative as Anne was. I definitely wasn’t as sweet as Diana Barry either.

Even when I was young, Anne Shirley’s story was about a different, gentler, slower way of life. To a child of the 21st century, I can’t imagine what they would make of this book. I hope there’s still room for the lively red-haired orphan. She’s a sweet little thing.

 

Review: Spindle Fire

30653924Title: Spindle Fire #1

Author: Lexa Hillyer

Themes: sisters, sacrifice, jealousy, curses, love

Plot: “Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.”

Isabelle leaves everything behind to find a cure for her sister and break the curse. Meanwhile, Aurora is trapped in a dream world, looking for a way to escape and return to her own home. But are the two sisters living their own lives, or are they doomed to repeat a legend?

Reaction: I always love stories about sisters, because I have a sister and I’ve fought many battles for her. And I love fairy tales, so this seemed like a real winner. Unfortunately I felt like something was missing.

I’ve gotten away from YA for the most part, but a good fairy tale is one thing that will suck me right back in. (That and steampunk.) Sleeping Beauty is not my favorite story, but I do like it, especially when the hero is the sister! But this one was nothing like say Two Princesses of Bamarre. There’s a LOVE TRIANGLE. 3 men, 2 women. I did like the characters. I wasn’t crazy about Aurora to start with, but she gets more interesting the longer she’s out of the palace.

I thought Isabelle’s blindness made a lot of her actions unbelievable. How does she get around so well in the forest and on a ship? It was never explained in a way that really made sense to me. And while I’m pointing out plot holes, how does Aurora learn to speak so quickly? It takes babies a long time, and she does it in a day.

I don’t know whether to recommend this one or not. I’m not going to continue the series, but I didn’t hate it. I liked the way Hillyer wove together the story of these sisters and the fae sisters. That was almost enough to make me read more. But in the end, the love story was just not working for me. 2.5 stars out of 5.

 

Review: My Sister’s Grave

Title: My Sister’s Grave (Tracy Crosswhite, #1)

Author: Robert Dugoni

Setting: Washington state

Themes: Crime, Secrets, Family, Second Chances

Plot: Tracy Crosswhite’s sister disappeared 20 years ago. She was never found. Now her body has turned up, and Tracy has her doubts that the right man was convicted of Sarah’s murder. Especially since someone is trying to keep Tracy from asking questions. Tracy won’t rest until she finds out what really happened to her sister, even if she has to go through hell to find out.

Reaction: It’s been a little while since I read this one, but I did enjoy it. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I was able to guess what was going on long before it happened, but I read to the end anyway. It was pretty dark and gruesome towards the end, but I think I will give this series another try. Just maybe not right away. I’m only giving it 3.1 stars out of 5, but like I said, I liked it enough to finish it.

Review: 100 Cupboards

Title : 100 Cupboards

Author: N D Wilson

Opening the door to another dimension.

This was almost two books in one. One was about Henry, a young boy whose parents go missing, forcing him to move in with his aunt and uncle, and a sci-fi/fantasy story about a room with portals into other worlds and a fight against an evil sorceress. While the fantasy story was good, and I’m looking forward to reading about more worlds in the next installment, I really preferred the story of Henry. His parents sheltered him from almost everything, never letting him have soda, controlling his pasttimes, even sending him to boarding school with a protective helmet he was supposed to wear during any physical activity. It’s only when he meets his Uncle Frank, who promptly gives him a pocketknife, lets him sleep outdoors, buys him a baseball mitt, that he realizes what he’s been missing. With Frank’s seemingly casual friendship, he begins to develop confidence. A good reminder for some of those hovering parents that kids need space to try their wings. Recommended for young teens and MG readers.