Book Review: A Body in the Backyard by Elizabeth Spann Craig

A Body in the Backyard is the fourth Myrtle Clover Mystery by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

Summary (from Wattpad)

It’s just an ordinary day for octogenarian sleuth Myrtle Clover—until her yardman discovers a dead body planted in her backyard. This death isn’t cut and dried—the victim was bashed in the head with one of Myrtle’s garden gnomes.

Myrtle’s friend Miles recognizes the body and identifies him as Charles Clayborne… reluctantly admitting he’s a cousin. Charles wasn’t the sort of relative you bragged about—he was a garden variety sleaze, which is very likely why he ended up murdered. As Myrtle starts digging up dirt to nip the killings in the bud, someone’s focused on scaring her off the case. Myrtle vows to find the murderer…before she’s pushing up daisies, herself.

Favourite Quote

This precognition was an irritating thing.  It made you feel like you were always one-step behind.

Review

This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and the first in the Myrtle Clover Mysteries that I have read.  And, I can say I really enjoyed this cosy mystery.  Myrtle Clover is an entertaining sleuth.  She reminds me a little of Miss Marple as she is always popping up everywhere, but unlike Miss Marple, Myrtle is so much more proactive when it comes to finding the evidence she needs to solve the case.

Myrtle is a fantastic sleuth determined to get to the bottom of the case before her son, Bradley’s chief of police, Red does.  Red is an interesting character.  Professionally he doesn’t want his mother to interfere with a murder inquiry.  Personally he is worried about her, and thinks at her age she should be living in a retirement home.

There were other entertaining characters in this story also: Wanda the psychic and her brother, Crazy Dan, her neighbour, Miles, and Pasha the feral cat (one of my favourites).  I liked how the other characters interacted with Myrtle, their opinions varying from a nosy old lady to a vulnerable OAP, from the stern teacher who taught them over thirty years ago to the crank gnome collector.

This gentle-paced cosy mysteries was a fun, quick read.   I will definitely be reading more of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, maybe even before this month is out.

Rating

Originally I was only going to award the book 3.5 / 5 but Myrtle was so much fun I bumped it up to 4

I found “A Body in the Backyard” by Elizabeth Spann Craig on Wattpad.

Book Review: Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin

Summary (from Wattpad)

When police officer Kate Dexter runs over a man on a dark country road, the last thing she expects to discover is that he’s also been shot. Unable to get help because of the storm that caused the accident in the first place, she takes the unconscious stranger to her family’s farm, intending to alert the local authorities.

Then Jonas Burke regains consciousness, and his shocking blue eyes and incredible story give her pause. Is he the victim of the conspiracy he claims? Or is he the dirty cop-turned-murderer that’s the subject of a Canada-wide warrant?

With a manhunt underway for the fugitive she’s now harboring, Kate finds herself torn between career and instinct. Even as everything cop in her insists she turn him over, her heart tells her he’s innocent…but can she trust a heart that’s gone as rogue as the cop she may be falling for?

Favourite Quote

The gesture of familiarity twisted through Jonas with all the subtlety of a prison-made shank.

Review

This was one of those books where, on reaching the end of the chapter, I found myself saying, “Just one more”.  Again and again and again.  I just couldn’t stop reading until I reached the end.

The story, set in Canada and then the United States, is told from the perspectives of both Kate Dexter and Jonas Blake.  Their characters are so different from each other that you are pulled along by their toing-and-froing, and the tension between them was palpable throughout. I also liked Todd Jennings, Dexter’s partner.

There is plenty of action in this story, and so many twists and turns to keep you wondering where the next threat is going to come from.  After all, the odds are stacked against them from the start. The pace of the story was just right; fast enough to keep the reader engage but not so fast that they got lost.

As I read, I could clearly envisage each place Dexter and Blake visited.  From the country road where the story began, to the dark alleys, diners and motels that they called into.  The ending wasn’t unexpected, but I was kept guessing as to how the story was going to get there, which made for a fresh and captivating read.

This is one of the best books I’ve read on Wattpad, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially to those who like their crime novels to have a romantic suspense element to them.  I will certainly be reading more by this author, without a doubt.

Rating

4.5 / 5

I found Shadow of Doubt by Linda Poitevin on Wattpad.

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

(This review may contain spoilers)

Allegiant is the third and final book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.

Summary (from back cover)

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered – fractured by violence and power-struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal.  So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready.  Perhaps beyond the fence she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated ties, tangled loyalties and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind.  Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless.  Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves.  And once again Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature – and of herself – while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice and love.

Favourite Quote

I wonder if fears ever really go away, or if they just lose their power over us.

*

I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last.

Review

So, I really enjoyed Divergent and Insurgent, and my expectations of the final book in the trilogy were, of course, high, higher than they had been at any other point in the series.  And I wasn’t disappointed.

Allegiant is quite different from the first two books.  We are now outside of the fence; in effect, in the real world, if one far into the future.  But here the world is divided too, along different lines, but the results are the same.

Tris is such a strong and clever young woman.  It’s hard to read how someone so young has lost so much, suffered so much, witnessed so much, but it’s a testament to her character that she doesn’t give in.  But it is still heart-breaking, all the same.  Tris and Four’s relationship is also hard to watch; it’s almost constantly put to the test because of what they have to endure and live through, but there are also times where it is sweet and easy and terribly moving.

I both did and didn’t expect the ending to this book and thus the series.  I know that doesn’t make too much sense, but there it is.  The question is, am I happy about it?  No.  I’m not.  Why?  Because I’m human and emotional.  And yet, I’m not sure how else it could have ended.  The ending needed to big and bold to create an impact after all that had gone before, and the author certainly achieved that.

I loved this series.  It was definitely one of the best YA series I have read, and also one of the best dystopian series I have read.  And as such, I can’t recommend the Divergent trilogy highly enough.

Rating

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.

Summary (from back of book)

One choice can transform you – or destroy you.  Tris Prior’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration: instead it ended with unspeakable horrors.  Now unrest surges in the factions around her as conflict between their ideologies grows.

In times of war sides must be chosen and secrets will emerge.  Tris has already paid a terrible price for survival and is wracked by haunting guilt.  But radical new discoveries and shifting relationships mean that she must fully embrace her Divergence – even though she stands to lose everything.

Favourite Quote

Like a wild animal, the truth is too powerful to remain caged.

*

Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like.

Review

I read Divergent in a couple of days and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into book two in the series, but I did wonder if Insurgent could live up to my sky-high expectations.  I needn’t have worried.  It did, without question.

Whereas with book one, we get to see up close two of the five factions (Abnegation and Dauntless), in book two we are given not only a closer look at the remaining three (Amity, Candor and Erudite), but also the factionless; those who have been forced to live outside and on the edges of society.  The divide between those within the faction system and those discarded by is great, and so naturally, the tension that exists between them is also great.

What I also liked about this book was that it wasn’t only a vehicle to get you from the amazing first book in the series to the amazing last book in the series.  It served it’s own function in the trilogy, building on book one and guiding the reader to book three via its own storyline.  It was packed full of information and detail about the world Tris, Four and the others live in, and the pace and action level of Divergent was maintained.

Insurgent is a fast, emotional, action-fuelled story that kept me entertained and ensured my attention never wavered.  The characters are not perfect; they are flawed and they are human, and it was interesting (and moving) to see how they each responded to the terrible events that unfolded around them.

As of writing this review, I’ve now finished reading the final book in the Divergent series, Allegiant, and will be posting the review of it soon.

Rating

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent is the first book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

Summary (from back of book)

Beatrice Prior is on the brink of a decision that will change her life.  In a society divided into factions all are forced to choose where they belong.  And the choice Tris makes shocks everyone, including herself.

Once decisions are made, the new members are forced to undergo extreme initiation tests with devastating consequences.  As their experience transforms them, Tris must determine who her friends are – and if the man who both threatens and protects her is really on her side.

Because Tris has a deadly secret.  And as growing conflict threatens to unravel their seemingly perfect society, this secret might save those Tris loves…or it might destroy her.

Favourite Quote

“Becoming fearless isn’t the point.  That’s impossible.  It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

*

“…there is power in self-sacrifice.”

Review

I’m surprised at how quickly I was pulled into this story, so much so that I really struggled to put it down.  I hadn’t seen the film before reading the book (which is how I prefer it), though a little serendipity, the film was on TV the day I finished it.  And I’m aware that it took me quite a long time to get around to reading it.  However, I do have a tendency to keep away from “popular” books at least while everyone is still talking about them.  (I still haven’t read The Hunger Games series yet!)  It helps to form my own judgement of the book, and to consider whether I think the hype surrounding it was justified in my opinion.

So, in a nutshell, I loved pretty much everything about this book.  I don’t often tend to read dystopian fiction, so Divergent was a pleasant surprise.

The faction system was really interesting, and I did spend a little while after reading it (and some time whilst I was reading it) wondering which of the five factions I would choose.  To think such a major decision has to be made by every sixteen year old is crazy.  I’m not sure I would have trusted my sixteen year old self to make a decision like this, and not one that would have had a major effect over the rest of my life.

Roth is very good capturing her characters personalities.  Tris is a fantastic main character; possibly one of my favourite YA leads.  Four is also great.  The book is well-written, and the storyline clear.  The pace was fast enough to keep me hooked and actively engaged in what was happening but not too fast that things passed me by in a blur and left me confused.

All-in-all, a great first book in a series, a great YA read, and one you can completely immerse yourself in for a few hours.

As soon as I finished this book, I started the second, Insurgent, the review for which I will be posting soon.

Rating

What’s coming up at Sammi Loves Books…

As we move towards the end of June, the season of reading challenges approaches here at Sammi Loves Books. Yay!

July is Indie Only Month

August is Historical Fiction Month

And as always, I’m really excited! 🙂

Book Review: Torment by Lauren Kate

Torment is the second book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate.

Summary (blurb taken from back cover)

Love never dies…

It took Lucinda an eternity to find her beloved angel, Daniel.  But he waited for her.  Now they are forced apart again, to protect Luce from the Outcasts – immortals who want her dead.  During their separation, Luce learns about her mysterious past lives.  But the more she discovers, the more she suspects that Daniel is hiding something.

What if Daniel’s version of the past isn’t true?  Is it really their destiny to be together?  Or is Luce actually meant to be with somebody else?

Favourite Quote

Sometimes beautiful things come into our lives out of nowhere.  We can’t always understand them, but we have to trust in them.  I know you want to question everything, but sometimes it pays to just have a little faith.

Review

After struggling to enjoy reading the first book in the series, I don’t know if I would have read the second, Torment, only I had already bought it when I purchased Fallen.  The covers pulled me in and persuaded me to buy them.  And I’m sort-of glad they did, because I enjoyed Torment more than the previous instalment and I wouldn’t have known that.

I’m still not a big fan of Luce – I think her attitude is all wrong and she just comes across as a really selfish person on occasion.  Again, it is her friend who I am more interested in as a character.  In the last book it was Penn.  This time round it is Luce’s hippy roommate Shelby.

Parts of the book were still slow-going in places, and still there is stuff going on which is alluded to but never explained.  It doesn’t make it mysterious, only confusing.  However, it was certainly more enjoyable than Fallen to read, and the end really set up the third book in the series nicely.  So much so, that I’m intrigued to find out what happens next, something which I couldn’t envision myself thinking at the end of book one.

Rating

3.5 / 5