Review for The Mysterious Benedict Society

It me again! Yes, I’m back for another review; two in a one week! What perfect timing! On the eve of Thanksgiving finishing one of my favorite MG books of all time. That is well worth giving thanks! This is a series I grew up loving and as a family we read these together. On one of our vacations, we listened to the audiobook which kept my dad entertained while driving. As kids, my siblings and I even tried to make a movie out of it. Let’s just say we only filmed about 2 scenes worth. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Usa Network Fist Bump GIF by Psych

With great pleasure I give you The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society

by Trenton Lee Stewart

Genre – MG fiction & sci-fi

Series – 1st book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series

Rating – PG for mild peril and danger

Synopsis –

Reynie Muldoon lives in an orphanage and despite being bullied for being smart, he enjoys his tutor Miss Perumal. One day while reading the newspaper together, Reynie spies an ad seeking exceptional children. After consulting Miss Perumal, he sets out to complete the test. Throughout these series of tests Reynie finds several things that are odd and make no sense. He eventually is joined by three other children who also passed. Together they are told they must stop a madman from brainwashing the world.

My Thoughts –

What a fun book! I enjoyed it when I was younger and still love it today! That speaks a lot for a book to hold up after all these years. I truly believe anyone would enjoy it! Stewart does a wonderful job creating a world that is similar to our own and with such relatable characters. Before I talk about these fantastic characters, I wanted to mention the mystery. The book is filled with puzzles and riddles. The high arcing one though is who is sending these messages and why. The author build it in such a way as to keep the reader interested and invested in what is happening. Is is a super complex mystery? No, but its done well.

Now, there are four main characters: Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance. Of all the characters on my reread I connected with Reynie the best. He is an average boy, who fears being left alone. You cannot but feel for Reynie and the gang. Being an orphan would be hard. Kate is so upbeat is hard not to like her optimism and charm. Both Sticky and Constance have grit and perseverance that isn’t easily seen. All of them experience normal emotions and yet when push comes to shove, they stand together which I love.

Ever since I first read this, narcolepsy has intrigued me. Its awesome when authors include people with disabilities, especially ones that aren’t discussed as much. I even used narcolepsy as a subject for one of my college papers.

There are so many great themes like teamwork, forgiveness, finding family, and sacrifice. Stewart writes for children, but also teaches life lessons hidden inside. These themes stand out in today’s society where right and wrong are based on how you feel. Also, much of the Emergency feels like what has occurred over the past two years. Who would have thought that a middle-grade book written in 2007 would stay pertinent.

So many great things I could say about this book! I mean Sticky and his parents just makes you want to cry and then go over and give him a hug. Milligan’s story as well! I’m a sucker for amnesia as I’ve mentioned before. Not sure why. Hmm, it is very odd.

I do want to mention that they made this into a TV series on Disney+ which does capture the 50s vibe. Also, the costumes are super cool. I just didn’t care for how they portrayed Reynie or Mr. Benedict. Two key roles to the whole story. I mean Reynie is pronounced similar to Jenny. Even the audiobook had that right. Why did they make it sound like Rainye??And I cannot begin to talk about what they did to S. Q. Pedalian which is sad. Beside all that, it is a decent show, just not quite faithful to the book.

Quotes –

“”Are You A Gifted Child Looking for Special Opportunities?” How odd, he thought. The question was addressed directly to children, not to their parents” (p. 3)

“The Mysterious Benedict Society,” Constance said, rising as she spoke. Then she left the room, apparently convinced that no more discussion was necessary. And, as it turned out, she was right.” (p. 145)

“Yes, he had wanted to convince Mr. Curtain he was working alone, had wanted to take suspicion off the children. He had sacrifice himself for them” (p. 409).

“He held his breath until the message was completed. Remember the white knight. Reynie let out his breath. A long, slow release. He didn’t have to think very hard to know what Mr. Benedict meant by that.” (p. 369)

Conclusion –

The Mysterious Benedict Society is a lovely book where you cannot but love the characters. Of the four in the series, not counting the prequel, this is my favorite! The prequel coming in close second. Which makes me want to go back and reread it as well! I cannot highly recommend it enough!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you read this series? What are your thoughts? Have a favorite character?

Anna

Shows I’ve been watching!

happy usa network GIF by Psych

Well, fellow book lovers, I’m back. It been while and I wanted to say hello and pop on. Its time for me rave and rant about some newfound shows I’ve been watching. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Since I’ve been feeling under the weather recently, I figured lets talk about shows!! My reading has slowed down quite a bit sadly, life likes to keep you on your toes. I’ll start with the more family-friendly options.

Anyway, let’s begin!

~The Mysterious Benedict Society

Genre – Mystery, Adventure, Children

Rating PG for peril

Thoughts –

This book series is one I grew up on and loved wholeheartedly. This kids are so dear to my heart and when I heard they were making a series, I was pumped. Still waiting to watch the last episode. Overall I have been impressed with how well they’ve kept the story intact. Have they changed things? Yes! Have I gotten annoyed? Yes! But if you want something that a fun family friendly mystery this is it!

Likes – First, the costumes are fantastic. The creators set the story in the 5o’s which I think fits quite well with the author’s writing style. The colors are vibrant and pop in the murkiness of the emergency. Plus, Kate’s bucket is spot on!! I do wish they had given her blonde hair and ponytail though. The actors for Reynard Muldoon and Sticky Washington fit so well with how I had envisioned them. Mulligan is hilarious and spot on as well. The Institute has manicured paths that must be kept to. Lastly, the Whisperer! If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about.

Dislikes – A big one for me is Mr. Benedict. Yes, they occasionally show is narcolepsy which I love!! But they’ve changed a few aspects about his character which bug me. In the book, Mr. Benedict was the epitome of calmness and courage. Yet, the series likes to show his craziness and worry. Also, they cut off Mr. Curtain having narcolepsy, which makes no sense. I really wanted to see Mr. Curtain speeding though the hallways on his wheelchair. Ah well! Also not sure why they killed off Sticky’s parents??? Like how does that add anything?? A little miffed they didn’t put the poison scene in, that was one of the best parts and the show didn’t even use it.

I’m starting to get too picky!! Moving on!

Loki

Genre – Superheroes, Villain, Time Travel, Adventure

Rating – TV14 for language and violence

Thoughts –

Of the three Marvel series out so far, this one is my favorite!! All three shows are vastly different, but Loki almost doesn’t even feel like Marvel. Do they mess with his whole character development and death, yep, they do. However we get to see a side of Loki that we haven’t seen before, a softer and kinder side. Albeit at the expense of Loki’s other characteristics. We get to see him learn some valuable lessons like trust, sacrifice, and helping others reach a goal.

Likes – Time travel! Yeah, after Lost, I love finding a well done time travel story line. Mobius! Who knew we needed Owen Wilson in the MCU, but he fits his character so well! Jet skiing! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sylvie is complicated. You dislike her desire to overthrow anything and everything in her path that remotely relates to to the TVA, but as you find out her reasons, she does grow on you. I’m still not sure what I think of the romance!? I mean technically they are both Loki’s so not sure how that will work out, but at the same time, Sylvie and Loki are different.

Dislikes – Not much to dislike here, the show can be odd, complex, and dark at times. At times the pacing felt off and slow. The time keeper at the end left more questions then answers and I cannot understand where he fits in MCU. There was some language, but I don’t remember anything blatant.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Genre – Cops, Humor, Drama

Rating – TV14 for crude jokes, language, & innuendo

Thoughts –

I’ve seen this show pop up a lot and several people I know have compared to Psych and Parks & Rec. Now, I’m only in season 2, but so far I like it. Its goofy and funny. Jake is soo similar to Shawn, except he is an actual cop who loves catching bad guys and cracks jokes as he does it. I don’t agree with some of the things the show stands for, but it makes for a fun show about a precinct that turns into a family. I’ll be honest, this show makes me laugh, hard!

celebrate hell yeah GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Likes – Boyle! Jake! Terry, and of course Rosa! All these characters have their quirks and idiosyncrasies, but they are also lovable. Amy is sweet, but a bit over the top for my taste. I love the way Jake is so willing to step in and help a friend in need, even if its wedding planning. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Terry puts his wife and kids first and truly wants what is best for them. Boyle is clumsy and nerdy, which I relate to, and needs a big hug. Even the captain has wisdom to share with his crew on occasion.

Dislikes

Gina – there are times when I want to like her, and then she does something. I think part of it is her work ethic. I cannot imagine, spending work time to primp and do make-up. Crass Humor – so yeah, its in there, mostly from Jake, Gina, and occasionally Rosa. We hear talk of who is doing who or who likes who quite a bit. Also, the Captain is gay, so they reference his husband. Its sad that this has become the normal on shows these days.

And the final one

Lupin!

Lupin

Genre – Mystery, Heist, Revenge

Rating – MA for strong language and suicide

Thoughts –

A good friend of mine told me about Lupin and absolutely loved it. She compared it to Sherlock, one of my top 5 favorite shows, so I figured why not give it a try. Lupin tells the story of Assane Diop a gentleman thief who is seeking to restore his father’s tarnished name. To do so he must take down a tricky and sneaky man named Hubert Pellegrini.

Likes – Assane is a conflicted hero, he steals from the rich and performs these incredible heists, but he is in turmoil over his dad being framed for a crime he didn’t commit and then dying shortly after. Also, Assane has a best friend named Benjamin who helps him along. I love their interactions and friendship; they’ve know each other since childhood. We also meet Assane’s family- ex-wife Claire and son Raoul. For each heist or con, we see it from how it appears to go down, and then we get the behind-the-scenes glimpse into how Assane pulled them off, which I love!! We do see that despite his vendetta against Pellegrini, Assane loves his family and wants to keep them safe.

Mona Lisa Lupin GIF by NETFLIX

Dislikes – Really, I only have one, the language. The first part has a lot!! You don’t need to use foul language to get your point across constantly. However, by the second part, it was much better. Also, there is violence thrown in, we see an suicide which as well as a kidnapping.

Conclusion –

So these are some of the shows I’ve been watching and enjoying! Almost all of these have characters growing or changing. We see villains save the world by willingly sacrificing something. We see kids being courageous and standing firm in the midst of a wave of danger. And a son who so wants to right the wrongs done in his past, that he loses a bit of himself as he faces his enemy. These are just a few things that stuck out to me!

Now over to you! Have you seen any of these shows? Do you have a favorite character? What have you been watching lately? Can’t wait to hear from you!

Anna

The Inheritance Games Vs. Truly, Devious

First, in this post I wanted to compare two YA mysteries that I recently finished and discuss which one I preferred. I’ll give a little background for each book. Let’s get started!

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Barnes

Genre – Family Drama, Mystery, Adventure

Series – 1st book in The Inheritance Games series

Rating – In between a solid PG and a soft PG-13

Synopsis –

Avery Grambs is normal teenager who is just trying to make it through high school. After her mom passed away, she moved in with her step-sister, Libby. One day while busy with classes, she is called to the office. There a handsome young man who tells Avery that she is named in Tobias Hawthorne ‘s will. A wealthy man who Avery didn’t even know existed. Upon arrival at his mansion, she finds she isn’t the only one eager to hear the will. Tobias had two daughters & four grandsons, Nash, Grayson, Jameson, & Alexander. These brothers don’t take kindly to a stranger waltzing in stealing their fortune. Will Avery figure out why her name is in the will?

My Thoughts –

I’ll briefly go over what I thought of The Inheritance Games before moving on to the next one. I liked Avery quite a bit, she wasn’t the typical rebellious teenager, she had some grit to her. Her dream to travel the world was sweet as she was inspired by her mom. Now Libby on the other hand, while compassionate, was so annoying. I just kept asking why Libby, why would you do that?? Jameson also was a bit of a jerk at times and I just didn’t care for him. I loved Oren the security guard. He is definitely someone who you want on your side. Grayson and Xander were funny and took a little getting used too.

I feel like the plot balanced character growth with action and the plot moving forward. The mystery surrounding Tobias Hawthorne was intriguing. Loved the hidden clues and how Hawthorne wanted his family to work together. Now that I look at it kinda similar to The Ultimate Gift movie. It was a book that I enjoyed and didn’t want to put down.

Content – Mild occasional language, some kissing. A brief mention of a dead character character being lesbian

Truly, Devious by Maureen Johnson

Genre – Mystery, Coming of Age,

Series – 1st book in the Truly Devious series

Rating – PG-13 for swearing and innuendo

Synopsis –

Stevie Bell is a true crime fanatic. She loves mysteries and has read all the classics. After convincing her parents that Ellingham Academy is the place for her, she arrives at this isolated school in the mountains. She then sets out on a journey to solve an actual crime that happened there back in 1936. Albert Ellingham founded this academy as a free school to the brightest minds. In 1935 he, his wife Iris, and daughter Alice create their mansion and Academy. Then the unexpected happens Alice and Iris are kidnapped. Ellingham tries everything he can to save them, yet the ransom money is not enough. Later it is found that his wife was dead. Will Stevie be able to put the pieces together to solve this cold case?

My Thoughts –

Hmm, I’m trying to get my thoughts in order. First, I really didn’t care for Stevie or her friend Janelle. Almost all the kids at Ellingham are kinda horrid. The only one I even somewhat connected to was the writer kid Nate. Stevie was very proud of how much she knew about the case and how smart she is which got repetitive and grating. Also, I could tell David was lying and a bad influence from miles away.

I did listen to this as an audiobook. Let’s just say I didn’t care for the narrator. She could not do different voices so all the guy voices really run together and made it hard to distinguish who was who. So, that might have been the problem.

Ok, so I liked the the Ellingham case in the 30’s that mystery was interesting, but the modern mystery of Hayes’s death, ick, boring. Also, the flashbacks/flash forwards were done at odd times. I would have preferred the setting be just one time frame. I was hoping that by the end we would find out who the culprit was behind the Devious letter, but nope. Honestly, Stevie doesn’t find out anything new until like the last page.

Content – The teens swear and have a make-out session. Also there are two lesbian characters which felt a little much.

Now I’ll compare the two. Both books have a female lead who is out to solve a crime/mystery. I feel like Avery is a more flushed out character and I liked her a whole lot better then Stevie. Stevie was stuck up and had a hatred for her parents which I didn’t care for. Also, the supporting characters were better in The Inheritance games. I did like Nate in Truly, Devious, but he didn’t get much page time. Xander’s thoughts on scone eating had me laughing. Overall, the best characters goes to The Inheritance Games. Also, why did both authors have stick in lesbian characters? In my opinion we can write quality books without sticking stuff like that in.

Comparing the setting between the two, Truly, Devious had a more dark, ominous tone that was very like a classic noir film. I found it funny that both took place at rich schools or with wealthy individuals. While the mystery in The Inheritance Games felt more lighthearted and National Treasure like. Both were intriguing and both left on a bit of a cliffhanger with unanswered questions. Now I don’t mind unanswered questions, I mean Lost is one of my favorite shows, but I wish the authors could have given us a bit more to go on.

Conclusion –

As you can probably tell, I liked The Inheritance Games a whole lot better! Hands down. Now is it my favorite YA book, no. I feel like there are others that have a better mystery and a wee bit better written. Although I could see this making an interesting movie.

Now over to you! Have you read either of these two books? Do you have a favorite YA book?

Up next – I’m reading Merlin by Stephan Lawhead. Felt in the mood for more Arthurian Legend. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anna

Review of Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Genre – Mystery, Suspense

Series – #17 Hercule Poirot

Rating – PG-13 for violence and death

Synopsis –

The famous French detective Hercule Poirot has decided to take a vacation to Egypt. Little did he know that he would become involved in the mysterious murder of Linnet Ridgeway a British rich aristocrat. A few months before heading to Egypt, Linnet meets with her best friend Jacqueline de Bellefort to talk about Jacqueline’s possible engagement. Jacqueline is madly in love with Simon Doyle, a poor country man, and wants Linnet to give her consent to Jacqueline’s marriage. Several months later. Poirot meets Linnet during his trip in Egypt, and she had married Simon. Linnet is scared for her life and begs Poirot to investigate. After she is murdered on a boat, Poirot needs all of skill to figure out exactly what happened.

My Thoughts –

Sorry if my thoughts get a little jumbled, I finished this book almost a week ago and its still swirling around my head. I’ve only read/listened to a handful of Christie’s novels, yet this one seems to stand out to me. I enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express with its unique ending, but I almost liked Death on the Nile more. For starters, the focus is on character development and exploring what makes each suspect tick. I loved this aspect, most whodunit’s just focus on the crime. Then the murder doesn’t happen until half-way through the book. Again, this was different then most mystery novels I’ve read and it really worked!

There is a whole host of characters, some of whom are very well created. I really like how Christie wrote Jacqueline. Although she carries a grudge, I liked and felt sorry for her. I also was drawn to Cornelia; what a bright flower among so many flawed people. Cornelia had a kind and humble heart. Now, I cannot forget Poirot. He is definitely a quirky detective; he’s able to notice things that nobody else does, but also has a soft side. There was a section where he takes Jacqueline aside and they have a little chat. It was such an emotional scene and after having only met this women, Poirot cared about her.

Parks And Recreation Reaction GIF

The plot had several twists and turns to it. I was so sure that certain characters were innocent, but Christie had me fooled. There were a few things that I found odd, but wasn’t able to put everything together.

Although this is not a Christian book by any means, Poirot believes in God. He quotes scripture a few times at just the right moment and on the inside I was like “Yes!” Also, he tries to prevent several characters from making poor decisions.

Language – Mild infrequent swearing

Innuendo – A character marries her best friend’s boyfriend, (we find out later this was all planned by best friend to get money). A character references sex as a subject in her book she wrote.

Violence -Now while it is a murder mystery, Christie keeps the violence to a minimum. You know they die and how, but it isn’t gratuitous. A character is found dead the next morning by gunshot to head. Another character is shot in the leg. A few other characters die, but not very detailed. Later to avoid going to prison, a character commits suicide.

Conclusion –

Death on the Nile gives an interesting look at what can lead a person to do horrible things. There is a lot to think about and I really enjoyed diving into another Agatha Christie novel. I had a hard time putting it down!! Personally, I love seeing an in depth look at characters and their development . So this was right up my alley. Overall, a well written story that defiantly worth a read!

Have you read any Agatha Christie books? Do you have a favorite? Hope you are having a wonderful November!

Anna

2 Mysteries that I have recently finished

Recently I just haven’t had as much time to read as I would like, yet I have just finished 2 mysteries that were quite good! I enjoyed both, but for different reasons & and will give a mini review on both.

First, Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Anna Waterhouse.

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction

Series – Second book in the Mycroft and Sherlock series

Rating – PG -13 for violence & drug use

Synopsis – Mycroft has just started working high up in the British government and has saved the queen on a previous occasion when a series of murders occurs. At first he is not interested, but when Sherlock’s professor becomes involved and a few close calls, Mycroft begins to suspect that something is brewing. Sherlock meanwhile has secretly taken on this case as his budding investigative powers lead him into the lion’s den. Mycroft and Sherlock work together to find out who is behind these awful murders.

My Thoughts – First, I really liked the authors take on younger versions of Mycroft and Sherlock. I haven’t read the first book as I had no idea this was series, but there was enough information that I didn’t feel too lost. I preferred Sherlock’s escapades for I found Mycroft’s character not as interesting. Plus Sherlock has always been a favorite character of mine. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I liked Douglas with his orphanage for boys & appreciated his values. Nice to see Douglas endeavoring to keep his son’s memory by helping others in need. Charles and George were sweet and wanted to hear more of their story.

While the beginning was a wee bit slow, it began to pick up midway through. The action was spread out and did a decent job keeping the pace going, Although the conclusion felt a little off to me. It felt just a little anti-climatic. Oh, well. Overall I enjoyed it and liked several of the characters.

Content – Only a handful of mild uses of language. Really pretty minimal. Violence was mostly characters seeing an already dead body or a description of how they were killed. A couple mentions of genitals getting cut off. Later we learn this is a ritual done in Asia to teach others a lesson. There is a fight scene were a couple characters get beat up. The other content issue is drug use. It is a main theme as the bad guys test drugs on young children before shipping it to users. Sherlock enters a drug den and is injected multiple times.

Now for the second mystery!

The Religious Body by Catherine Aird

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction

Series – First book in the C. D. Sloan mysteries

Rating – PG – Mild violence

Synopsis – When a nun is thought to have been murdered in the convent of St. Anselm, Inspector Sloan is called in. Sister Anne is found at the bottom cellar. The problem for Sloan is that the Nuns are a very quiet group and have given up everything worldly to live for God. Sloan begins diving into Sister Anne’s past and interrogating the others in the convent. Will Sloan be able to get to the bottom before anyone else dies?

My Thoughts – This was a well done mystery. For the longest time, I thought someone was the culprit, but I was proved wrong. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyway, this was really clean and breath of fresh air. Set after WWII, it has a lot going for it. I like Sloan and his partner Crosby. They were a good pair that reminded me of a couple characters from the show Foyle’s War. While there isn’t much character development, the focus was on introducing the characters and solving the mystery. It was a pretty short book less then 200 p. We also get to see things from the sister’s perspectives and what their life was like. So pacing was pretty quick and it flowed really well for my tastes. I think that I will probably continue this series and see where it goes.

Content – Rare mild language, violence was again after the character had died. She is hit on the back of the head. The villain tries to kill another nun, but is stopped by inspector. Maybe a couple mentions of blood on her clothes. Other then that it is really clean.

Conclusion – So these are a few books that I have finished. It feels so good to finish a book!! Slowly, but surly I am ticking off books on my list. I think I only have maybe 2 or 3 left!! Yea!!! My next book will be My Dog Skip. I recently watched this movie and really enjoyed it! Then found out there was a book behind it so yeah, looking forward to that!!

What books have you read recently? Do you enjoy mysteries? Read any Sherlock Holmes pastiches? What is your favorite?

Anna

Review for Nine Coaches Waiting

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Genre – Suspense, Mystery, Romance

Series – No, it’s a stand-alone novel

Rating – PG – Attempted murder, mild language throughout

Synopsis –

Linda Martin has just accepted a job in France as a nanny for a nine year old boy. In order to acquire the job, Linda has omitted the fact that she grew up in France before she came to England. She is eager to return and looking for something fresh. Yet, upon her arrival, the aunt and uncle are giving off some strange vibes. Linda dismisses them and endeavors to settle herself in her new environment. As the weeks turn into months, there occurs several “accidents” involving, her charge, Philippe. Who is causing these accidents? And why?

My thoughts –

This was a reread for me as I had read it several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was wonderful to return to France and the Chateau Valmy. The book was written in the 50s and has a cozy air about it. I loved this book so much that I bought it to add to my ever growing collection. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Alright, let’s get down to business. The characters are superb and have a depth to them. Linda is a plucky and courageous young women who you can easily root for as she faces the dangers surrounding her young charge. I liked Philippe; he has wisdom beyond his young years. He experienced what no child should have to experience as both of his parents died suddenly. These events have lead to Philippe’s quietness and thoughtfulness. Then you get to Raoul. I have to say that I really liked Raoul. Now, he can be an idiot at times, but he cares both for Philippe and Linda. Although, I do have say that he falls for her rather quickly, but oh well. You can’t have everything.

Honestly this was a hard book to put down, despite having read it before. There were a few scenes that I remembered like the Easter Ball, but I couldn’t remember how everything turned out. Stewart does a great job dragging you into story, yet also moving the plot along at a decent pace. Also, Stewart does a job creating beautiful descriptions that she uses throughout the novel. They reminded me a bit of the descriptions in The Blue Castle.

The one thing I didn’t care for was the ending. There was a whole misunderstanding that occurs and it is only resolved on like the last few pages. I wish there could have been a bit more to tidy things. I would have loved to see where Linda ends up and how Philippe handles the whole situation.

Language – Mild language throughout, mostly kept to what you would hear in PG TV show. 1 use of God’s name in vain.

Violence – Stewart keeps the violence down to a minimum. Mostly, the threat is what you can’t see. There is a shooting accident out in the woods where they try to shoot at a character. The character is not hurt though. Also, they try to cause him to fall off balcony. Again though a character’s ingenuity, she protects him. Lastly, at the very end a character commits suicide (although a character thinks he was murdered at first). It isn’t described in detail.

Innuendo – Two characters fall in love. They kiss twice. Some talk of falling in love. Gossip gets out that two characters run off together, but in reality they didn’t.

Conclusion –

Overall for a cozy mystery, this one is really enjoyable. Yes, there is a bit of love at first sight, but the romance is secondary to the mystery. I love cozy mysteries that have that old fashioned feel to them. So many cozy mysteries today feel over done or have cardboard characters. Its always refreshing to find a mystery that is different and unique. This would make for a great summer read as it is relatively short, but enjoyable. I would say that this book is aimed at adults.

How are your summer’s going? What have you been reading?

Anna

Review for The Tale of Briar Bank

The Tale of Briar Bank by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre – Historical fiction, Mystery, Fantasy

Series – 5th book in The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Rating – PG – Peril and mild violence

Synopsis –

Beatrix Potter has returned to her house at Hill Top farm. She is looking forward to spending some time in the country. Yet, when she arrives, the town is in an uproar. Mr. Wickstead has met an untimely death by the form of a tree. The villagers believe it is a curse, while Constable Braithwaite is not so sure. He has noticed some unusual marking on the tree. One of the witnesses to the event is a badger named Bailey, but of course he has no way of telling the humans what exactly he saw. Will Miss Potter be able to get to the bottom of this mystery before it is too late?

My Thoughts –

I have so enjoyed this series!! And this book is one of the better ones. The previous book, The Tale of Hawthorn House, was bit odd and disjointed. The Tale of Briar Bank flowed much better and the animals were much more likeable. There was Norse theme throughout which I liked. I have always enjoyed Norse history/mythology. One of the animals we are introduced to is a dragon named Thorvaald. He was so sweet and odd. It was hard not to like him.

Another new element is Miss Potter and Mr. Heelis’s blossoming friendship. Many years before Miss Potter’s fiance had died quiet suddenly and ever since she has been grieving her loss. So it was wonderful to see her start to move on after four books. ๐Ÿ™‚

The villagers are so quirky and odd. You have the usual gossip that spreads like wildfire and villagers falsely believing characters are a couple. They complement their town so well. The author does a wonderful job bringing this English countryside to life. You can picture the lakes and hills in your head. It reminds me a bit of the characters in the BBC show Doc Marin.

The author also breaks the third person wall and speaks right to the reader. She does this frequently throughout the book which I enjoyed. It made it seem like we were co-conspirators invading the town. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Albert would tell the reader that, “So you and I shall not stand idly by and wait whilst Will examines the photographs and eats his lunch. Instead we shall take ourselves up to The Brockery. . .” (Albert, p. 144). I think this is a great way to connect to readers, especially when done the right way.

Albert, Susan Wittig. The Tale of Briar Bank. Berkley Publishing Group, New York. 2008.

Language – None

Violence – A character is killed by the top of a tree. A dragon tries to hurt a badger by its fire. Badger gets singed arm.

Innuendo – The villagers believe that 2 characters are a couple and possibly engaged. (all false). Two different characters begin to develop a romantic relationship. Very mild.

Conclusion –

This was a lovely addition to the series. It was delightful to be able to visit the small town of Near Sawrey again. I highly recommend this series as it is something the whole family could enjoy. The author does a great job of keeping them pretty clean which is wonderful. Plus you get to learn some of the history surrounding Beatrix Potter.

Have you read any book in this series? What are you currently reading? Cannot wait to hear from you all!!

Review for At Home in Mitford

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At Home in Mitford by Jan Karen

Genre – Christian fiction, Mystery

Series – 1st in Mitford series

Rating – PG – for thematic elements

Synopsis –

Father Tim is an aging bachelor who is just worn out from life. He has ministered to the Mitford parish for 25 years. Yet, now that he is in his 60s, his life seems to be throwing him several curve-balls. First, a large dog follows him around town. Then an 11 year old boy needs a home while his grandpa recovers from pneumonia. Later on food is disappearing from the church refrigerator. Lastly, a new neighbor has moved in and the Father begins to like her. Will Father Tim figure out a way to juggle these things?

Summary –

Since I haven’t been able to go to the library for a while, I have been catching up on reading books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for way too long. This was a gem!! I have never read anything by this author before so it was a complete surprise. I had recently finish Christy, which was OK in its own right, but this blew it out of the water.

To start the characters felt like people who you would meet walking down the street. They all had flaws and issues they were working through. Father Tim was a gentle shepherd. It was interesting to see him take his flock so seriously. Each week he would visit just about his everyone in his church. Dooley was quite a handful, but he provided some needed humor. Father Tim takes him under his wing and provides a home. Also the character Emma is a hoot.

There were a few twists I didn’t see coming which I appreciated. The mystery is just a small portion of the book, but it pays off hugely in the end. Also, I laughed out loud several times. The novel uplifted me, plain and simple. It was refreshing to have a clean, wholesome story.

There are some theological discussions sprinkled throughout the story. Several characters come to know the Lord which is always neat to see. The Father is an Episcopalian, which is a denomination that I didn’t know much about. So I learned a few things along the way like gospel side vs. epistle side.

Language – Only one foul word used by someone who wasn’t a believer

Violence – A character is shot off the page. Also there are characters who were ill. Mention of a heart transplant.

Innuendo – As Father Tim falls for Cynthia, they talk about going steady. A few mentions of wanting to hold her. One kiss on the cheek.

Conclusion –

If you are looking for a wholesome story that is not dark, I would recommend this book. I loved the small town community as it felt like I had stepped back in time. Its the type of book that will make you laugh and then cry as the story unfolds.

Have you read any books in this series? How is your March going? Cannot wait to hear from you!

Anna

Review of The Tale of Hawthorn House

The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre – Mystery, Historical fiction, Adult

Series – 4th in The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Rating – PG – for mild language and drama

Synopsis –

During a summer festival, baby Flora suddenly appears on Miss Potter’s doorstep. The villagers begin a search for the Flora’s parents, but to no avail. Meanwhile, Jemima Puddle-duck tries her hand at motherhood. Will Miss Potter be able to get down to the bottom of the mystery?

My thoughts –

Compared to the first three books, this one felt a little repetitive. There was a lot of recapping what had happened in previous books. From the start of the book, you have a pretty good idea where its headed. Not really any surprises.

Now, its not all bad. There is still some magic to the quaint village of Sawrey. I enjoyed the bit about the town’s meddling in personal affairs and chuckled at how the inhabitants had decided on who Miss Potter would marry.

Now I did struggle with the whole Thorn Folk. In The Tale of Holly How, the fairies felt real and not pushed on you. While here, I feel forced to believe that these Thorn Folk exist. Maybe it was the way the author used them, but I did not care for it.

To me the whole animal side-plot works for me. I enjoy hearing the animals talk among themselves about the big folk. I enjoy hearing about their adventures. Although Jemima could be annoying at times. I struggled to believe that she would run off with a fox. It connects the stories Beatrix Potter wrote to this series.

Violence – None

Innuendo – At the beginning, it is insinuated that a character had a baby out of wedlock, but that turns out not to be the case.

Language – A few mild curse words, maybe 4 at the most.

Conclusion –

I appreciate having a series of books that are clean and aren’t filled with a bunch of superfluous content. Although, this addition to the series wasn’t up to par as the previous books were, it still had that small town charm. I’m hoping the rest of the series will improve.

Review for The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages

The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Riddle of Ages by Trenton Lee Stewart

Genre – Middle-grade fiction, science fiction

Rating – PG for mild peril

Series – 5th book in The Mysterious Benedict Society

Synopsis –

It has been several years since we last met with the society. They have now grown up and matured. Yet, there is a new crisis arising. The Ten Men have escaped and are looking for revenge, and they have teamed up with another telepathic individual. Will the society be able to come together once more?

My Thoughts –

I was so excited when I first heard this was coming out!! I read this series back when I was in middle-school. So this was a sweet treat to be able to visit with some old friends. The older kids are roughly 16 years old, maybe 17. While, Constance is now 8.

This book had a different feel to it then the previous four. (I’m included The Extortionary Education of Nicholas Benedict in the count.) The writing style has changed. The riddles are still there, but the focus has shifted more to how they have all changed.

A key component to this book is growing up and how that affects friendships. I think this one will resonate with kids and adults alike. There are some great moments in there between Reynie and Mr. Benedict which really got to me. I loved that we get an idea of where the kids will go in the future.

I will mention a couple downsides that I feel detract from this book. First, less action and less mystery. I do with there would have been a bit more mystery for the kids to solve. It spent much more time focusing on interpersonal communication.

Secondly, the adults where for the most part are out of the picture. I remember when I first read this series, how positive the adults were portrayed. So, many books these days have awful parenting. This was always a series I could count on showing positive parent-child relationships. Not to say that the parents were portrayed negatively, but their influence was minimal at best. I guess this is due to the kids needed to grow up and take on more responsibility.

Language – None

Innuendo – A character who can read thoughts heard that a some characters had crushes on each other. There is no mention of who crushes were on.

Violence – This series for the most part tries to handle things without relying on violence. Several characters talk about how they do not want to hurt anyone. A bad character throws pencils at other characters, and talks about hurting them. Also a character shoots tranquilizer darts, but overall no one is hurt.

Summery –

I loved being able to return to this fantastic series. The whit and charm were still there, but the characters themselves have changed. While, there is less action, we get a deeper look at friendship and the lengths one would take to keep it going. This would be a great read-aloud!

What are your thoughts? Have you read this series? Which book is your favorite?

Anna