Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit | Mini Review // Grab your magnifying glass!

Greetings readers!

It’s been a while since I reviewed a Middle Grade novel for you all! It is high time that I do, so here I am today bringing you the content you deserve!

Now let me take a moment to drool over this cover. I just love it. Everything about it. From the muted colours of the comic panel in the back to the vibrant and chic illustration of Goldie smack dab in the middle! Just look at her pose, you can definitely tell she is on the move!

Many thanks to HBG Canada for providing me with an ARC!

Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit by Lilliam Rivera

Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit

Publisher: Little Brown Books
Pub Date: March 17th, 2020
Goodreads

Move over, Nancy Drew–there’s a new sleuth in town! Inspired by the beloved comic series, Goldie Vance is ready to sleuth her way through never-before-seen mysteries in this original middle-grade series by Lilliam Rivera!

Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives and works at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida with a whole slew of characters: her dad, Art, the manager of the joint; Cheryl Lebeaux, the concierge and Goldie’s best friend; and Walter Tooey, the hired hotel detective. Her mom, Sylvia, works nearby at the Mermaid Club.

While life at the Crossed Palms is always busy, the resort is currently overrun with Hollywood-types filming the hottest new creature feature, and tensions are at an all-time high. Even Goldie’s mom is in on the movie act, doing what she does best: playing a mermaid. Just when Goldie thinks the movie biz couldn’t get any more exciting, a diamond-encrusted swimming cap goes missing, and all fingers point to Goldie’s mom as the culprit. Can Goldie uncover the true thief before it’s too late?

Hope Larson and Brittney William’s critically acclaimed Goldie Vance comic series explores never-before-seen mysteries in this thrilling, original middle-grade debut by Lilliam Rivera. Features a full-color comic chapter that’s essential to unraveling the mystery.


The Likes

I really enjoyed these cheeky and quirky middle grade mystery story! There is already a Goldie Vance comic series out there and this an original novel by Rivera based on the existing characters. I had quite a fun time with it, thankfully! The characters were quite humorous and I loved the Hollywood adventures in this small town! I believe this takes place in the 70s/80s so reading about how movies sets used to be was pretty interesting! Goldie was quite the personality! She had a way of smooth talking herself out of trouble that was a lot of fun to read about! Her relationship with her mentor Walt was golden *pun not-intended…but maybe intended* because she was so much more confident and colourful than his wary tense self, but he is a real MVP too!

The mystery itself was pretty fun! I mean, I guessed it a mile away but its a middle grade novel so I am not going to complain here. I will say that I didn’t see absolutely everything coming, so this still should appeal to many kinds of readers, perhaps those who like soft mysteries the most!

The Questionable

My biggest issue was that Goldie was 16 but she read like a 12/13 year old. It was just not the best. Like I understand this is a book for kids and having them read a language that they will relate to is important, but it felt jarring to know that she was 16 and not acting like a teenager. I’m not saying at 16 I was any more mature or put together than Goldie, it would be hypocritical of me to say that, but I think this book would have worked a lot better if Goldie was 13. It’s a good age, she could of still had a job, not as a valet obviously and her crush on Diane would have still been explored (I actually would have liked to see more of the crush adventure too, but I think there is more to come in another book…don’t quote me on it though). It’s just that her as a 16 year old didn’t work for me.
I don’t know how else to say it 😦


Overall, it was a fun book! I didn’t find anything incredibly amazing about it, but I did have a good laugh and enjoy myself for the most part! I think that this is perfect for kids who want to dive into a funny and quirky story about a girl solving mysteries and taking down adults who are super blah!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars 

Recommend: Yes!

Let me know what you think! Do you like your mysteries super complicated or more light? Did you read the original Goldie Vance comics? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

Untamed Shore | Review // In which I read my first thriller and realize I might be more blood thirsty than I initially thought…

Greetings readers!

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram knows how much I adore Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work. I discovered her a few years ago when The Beautiful Ones came out in 2017 and since then I have gobbled up her novels. And we all know how much I LOVE Gods of Jade and Shadow so obviously all her works are on my TBR from now one!

Her latest release, Untamed Shore is a crime thriller and—

—-Rendz you barely read thriller and you’ve a record 0 crime books

Um, excuse me. This is Silvia Moreno-Garcia we are talking about. If it’s got her name on it, I read it. Plus I always like guessing at mysteries!

Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Untamed Shore
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Feb 11, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Goodreads

Renowned author Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s first thriller, UNTAMED SHORE, is a coming-of-age story set in Mexico which quickly turns dark when a young woman meets three enigmatic tourists.

Baja California, 1979. Viridiana spends her days watching the dead sharks piled beside the seashore, as the fishermen pull their nets. There is nothing else to do, nothing else to watch, under the harsh sun. She’s bored. Terribly bored. Yet her head is filled with dreams of Hollywood films, of romance, of a future beyond the drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

Three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is magnetized. She immediately becomes entwined in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from the promise of a humdrum future.

When one of them dies, Viridiana lies to protect her friends. Soon enough, someone’s asking questions, and Viridiana has some of her own about the identity of her new acquaintances. Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman who is quickly being tangled in a web of deceit.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most exciting voices in fiction, and with her first crime novel, UNTAMED SHORE, she crafts a blazing novel of suspense with an eerie seaside setting and a literary edge that proves her a master of the genre.


The Likes

SMG has a way of just totally sucking you into a book. I’ve never set foot in 1970s Baja California and yet I felt like I was intimately involved with the town of Desengaño. The words wrap around you until you feel like you’re standing on the beach and looking at the display of shark corpses. You feel it, you smell it, you can hear every sound. And, yeah, you’ve never even been in a setting like that before, but the writing makes it a whole experience for you anyways.

The writing is gorgeous and stellar, but I’ll be honest, what got me reeled in were the characters!

Viridiana, my girl. She was un-apologetically herself all the time. (Although she has her moments of self-doubt, but don’t we all) She was walking paradox. Practical, straightforward and yet dreamy. She fully understood her confinement in her small town, and the limits placed on her because of her gender, religion and economic status, but that didn’t stop her from dreaming. From imagining herself as a movie star, albeit a hopelessly romantic one. She had a love for languages which hello, hi, same. I really enjoyed reading about her journey and the shit she put herself through and had to get out of. I loved that she was not perfectly capable and when she messes up she has to get her hands dirty to fix it up. And let me tell you she messes up. A lot. But she wants what we all want, a life worth having lived. Where she can reach for the stars like anyone else. And she lies, cheats and maybe does more to get that.

The Americans….HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. The mother fucking Americans. (I am talking specifically about the book’s Americans, not you my dear American readers). Viridiana gets caught up in their web and it takes a lot of work to get out of it. If I’m being honest Gregory was a little beeyatch and Daisy was The Bitch of the Group, so I really hated them, but was also fascinated by them. Viridiana and I were both really in the same boat here, except I was better at calling their bullshit.

The twistiness!!!! You know at one point I thought I had it in the bag. Like I knew exactly what was gonna happen and then I got slapped and realized I needed to humble myself. Suffice to say, the twists were really good. There was a lot of suspense to be had and the book keeps you on the edge of your seat constantly. It’s that kind of tense reading where you’re yelling at the characters to do one thing and they do the opposite which only makes you more stressed but also more intrigued! There were a lot less sharks than I initially anticipated (but they are mentioned a lot), but the Americans and ~others~ do have a certain vicious sharkness to them. I’ll be honest though the beginning sets up a lot of groundwork so it takes a bit to get to that first moment of shit-hitting-the-fan. But it sure does and my girl gets her hands dirty!!

Now, it turns out that I am willing to go way farther than Viridiana is to get out of a mess and she goes pretty far. I had to take a minute to question my moral values and reflect on my blood thirst. Viridiana had the decency to feel some remorse where as I was like yasssssssss I like this blood we are spilling and lies we are telling. So yeah. 🙂 I mean we both had self-preservation in mind, she’s just a little more of a thinker whereas I was like, let’s just take them all down!

The Questionable

Why couldn’t this book get the full five stars from me? I guess it’s because it ended almost too smoothly. Here I am complaining that it was a good ending. I’m a terrible reader, I know! But I guess I was hoping for that last minute WTF moment that I thought would come with thrillers, but no it was pretty chill. It was a good ending, satisfying too, but perhaps I was hoping for one more twist.


Overall, I really enjoyed this! It is definitely a thrilling ride and you will love the havoc these tourists wreak on this small town that, let’s face it, loves the drama just like us readers!

Rating: 4.25 / 5 Stars

Recommend: You know the answer is yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this or are thinking about picking it up? Are you a thriller fan? What are some of your favourites?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

read

S.T.A.G.S. | Review

Greetings readers!

I do love a thrill. I love an adventure. I love the high-stakes, the heart pounding panic of what will happen next! What?! What?! What?! I get a lot of that from fantasy. Lots of epic battles and plans that go awry!

Now, I don’t usually expect thrill from contemporary. I usually look for the warm fuzzy feels and drama. But when reading a contemporary-thriller you have to expect less warm fuzz and more of that heart-pounding-my-goodness-what-is-going-on???? feeling.

Which I definitely experienced.

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett

S.T.A.G.S.
via Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Greer, a scholarship girl at a prestigious private school, St Aidan the Great School (known as STAGS), soon realizes that the school is full of snobs and spoilt rich brats, many of whom come from aristocratic families who have attended the institute throughout the centuries. She’s immediately ignored by her classmates. All the teachers are referred to as Friars (even the female ones), but the real driving force behind the school is a group of prefects known as the Medievals, whose leader, Henry de Warlencourt, Greer finds both strangely intriguing as well as attractive. The Medievals are all good-looking, clever and everyone wants to be among their circle of friends. Greer is therefore surprised when she receives an invitation from Henry to spend a long weekend with him and his friends at his family house in the Lake District, especially when she learns that two other “outsiders” have also been invited: Shafeen and Chanel. As the weekend unfolds, Greer comes to the chilling realization that she and two other “losers” were invited only because they were chosen to become prey in a mad game of manhunt.



Buy It!

Amazon | Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

This book releases January 30th! Drop by your local bookstore or library to check it out!



*I received a free digital copy from the publisher on Netgalley, which does not in any way influence my opinion!*

Well. Well. I enjoyed this book very, very much. You guys know that thriller (like scary-dark thriller) is just not my thing. (I am a scaredy cat) But when I do make an exception and brace myself for some good ol’ thrill, I hope that it will crush my expectations and make me crave more of this genre.

Goal achieved.

**Plus this had the most gorgeous cover I just had to request it!! **

What I Liked:

Characters: 

Greer: I found her to be a very interesting. She had spent the first half of the school semester as a misfit and shunned, scholarship kid. She basically had zero friends, meaning social life was at an all time low and getting an invite to an exclusive vacation at the richest/most beautiful popular boy’s house was the best thing that happened to her in a long time. Or was it??

the croods doom GIF
giphy.com

Anyways…I really did enjoy Greer as a narrator and MC in this book. She was quirky and intuitive. She was also foolish and at one point I really want to knock her outside of the head. But she redeems herself! I absolutely loved that she brought up references to the films she and her dad loved to watch and how she inserts her personality and likes into the narration of the story. It really showed off her nerdy and quirky self and her grand ability to make connections and put two and two together!

Shafeen: Although he is not in most parts of the story, he is still very much a present. And when he is there, he is there. He shut down those racist, rich white kids so many times with such class. *applause, applause* Every word that came out of his mouth, priceless. Every move he made turned tables.

Other characters...There was also Nel, who had it pretty rough in a Gatsby style. She was of new money and the white rich kids did not appreciate people who were not of old money!

So then there are The Medievals a.k.a the white, rich (psycho) kids who brought down their wrath on the previous three characters mentioned. I wasn’t thinking of mentioning them because I really hated them, so let’s just say I enjoyed hating them very much.

The Blood Games:

I have never been hunting, shooting or fishing. Blood sports are really just not my thing. The Medievals version of Huntin’ Shootin’ Fishin’ really is not my style either…let’s emphasize the blood shall we. I’m not meaning to intend that this book was filled with gore and washed in blood every few pages because it wasn’t. It was a very bloody book in that these sports fostered danger, elevated the stakes and made the characters act in ways that were feral and wild. I really enjoyed the twist of the games and how they brought characters together and wreaked havoc too.

The Narnia References are in Full Force:

Okay so this isn’t really about the book, but hey! It’s important to me. I got like ten references to Narnia. First it was just a comparison to Prince Caspian then it was full blown, referring to the movie and talking about discovering secret worlds, finding magical apartments and…and…and.. I freaked out a little. I was just so excited. Trust me this book references lots of films, as that Greer’s favourite thing, so seeing my favourite movie/book referenced  gave me all the feeeeeeeeellllllllllssssss!

*Plus LWW ends with the Pevensies chasing a White Stag…so it’s fitting that the movie be referenced :)*

film love GIF
via giphy.com

The Narration:

Greer was retelling the story to us. It’s that kind of thriller, where the reader goes in and they are given this mini-introduction, so they have a foggy idea of how the book is going to end or where the direction of the story it headed. Then as Greer tells you the story you start picking up on things, connecting some dots and predicting events that just might happen. I especially loved it when Greer would add in her own little comments about what was happening and how she should have acted differently. Especially when she was in her more foolish nature, narrator Greer would take a side note just to point out how dumb she was being.

The World:

Perhaps “The World” is the wrong title, because this book took place in England. Not some foreign fantastical land. Still…the world was very different. We get a glimpse into the white, privileged, upper class life with a medieval twist. A literal medieval twist, these kids not only called themselves Medievals, but lived through that mantra. They avoided having too many modernities like the internet, phones, and most other electrical appliances and they engaged in traditional sports; hence Huntin’ Shootin’ Fishin’.

What really struck me about this world though, was experiencing the consequences of the power and privilege bestowed upon these teenagers that were almost lethal. They controlled everything and everyone. They got away with everything they did. And it’s not a far fact from how it is in real life. How far money and power can take you. How much money rules the world and the extent to which it can bend the will of a person. Scary stuff.

The Ending:

The gif is enough to summarize.

modern family GIF
giphy.com

What I Disliked:

It Was Not As Twisty As I Was Hoping?: 

There were twists trust me and some of them I saw coming. This really stems from the very beginning of the book and how Greer introduces the problem. I already knew going in that deaths would be inevitable and I was kind of thinking that everyone was going to die. And while I don’t mean to sound sadistic, one person died and it was a little anti-climatic. You have an idea of who dies and why they die and who kills them. So I felt that the intro given by Greer gave too much and it took away from the reader.


Overall, it was a great book. For a non-thrillerish gal I thoroughly enjoyed it very much. It was fun, fast, and quite a ride. It makes you think about the consequences of money and privilege and also the effect of living in a world where everything is on the internet. The ending was a bit cliff-hanger like. I mean it did open up the possibility of a sequel, but I think it would be best to leave this as a stand alone and let the readers wonder and imagine how that could possibly be resolved.

Rating: 4 / 5 stars 

Recommend: Yes! Especially if your not always that into the thrills, but your in the mood for a little thrill!!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you good at guessing endings? What are some of your favourite thriller/mystery books? I need recommendations after all!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

The Last of August Review

Greetings readers!

Confession time. I have this thing for Sherlock Holmes retellings or anything to do with the mysteries of Holmes.

Bigger confession: I have never read a real Sherlock Holmes book or watched the various TV and movie adaptations.

Yup.

So, I really do not know where this fascination stems from. It just is as it is. Thus, when I stumbled upon a gender-bent Sherlock last year in Brittany Cavallaro’s  A Study in Charlotte I knew I would immediately get hooked!

And I was hooked!

Revisiting the beloved characters of Charlotte and Jamie came in the sequel The Last of August!

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2)
via Goodreads

Watson and Holmes: A match made in disaster.

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter-break reprieve after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But Charlotte isn’t the only Holmes with secrets, and the mood at her family’s Sussex estate is palpably tense. On top of everything else, Holmes and Watson could be becoming morethan friends—but still, the darkness in Charlotte’s past is a wall between them.

A distraction arises soon enough, because Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring. The game is afoot once again, and Charlotte is single-minded in her pursuit.

Their first stop? Berlin. Their first contact? August Moriarty (formerly Charlotte’s obsession, currently believed by most to be dead), whose powerful family has been ripping off famous paintings for the last hundred years. But as they follow the gritty underground scene in Berlin to glittering art houses in Prague, Holmes and Watson begin to realize that this is a much more complicated case than a disappearance. Much more dangerous, too.

What they learn might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

I waited a whole year to read this sequel and then made myself wait a little more because I forgot about it! When I saw it at the library, I snatched it up! I loved the first book so my expectations for the second one were quite high!

What I Liked

Characters:

Jamie – Ohhhhhhhhhhh Jamie! Sweet, sweet, sweet Watson! I love this guy too much! He is the best narrator for this book! Funny, quirky and so utterly confused! It would be really hard to live and be around people like Holmes, who are walk around know-it-alls (and I mean that in the nicest way possible!) Yet, despite all the moments he feels like he is so out of place, he understands that he has a purpose in this group and that he can work with them even if he doesn’t know all the hacks and tricks of a good detective!

Charlotte – Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Charlotte! How lovely and mysterious you are! She is also rather funny, she just doesn’t know it! She is très, très INTELLIGENTE! Also, mysterious, closed off and a survivor of something so horrific. I adore Charlotte and all her detective work! I adore her ability to keep moving forward despite so many difficult obstacles! Plus, I love it when she narrates those two chapters because she is so blunt and fun!

August – Even though I thought he was coming in to make a triangle, I think he is an interesting character. He definitely brought up a lot of questions about Charlotte’s past and her family. He is after all a part of her family’s mortal enemy! I wish we had got to know him a little more, but then I remember that Jamie is narrating and he gets quite jealous!

Cross Europe Travelling: I loved that the characters moved around! London! Prague! Lots of new settings, with lots of places to discover! I loved the way the places were described and ventured through! I felt the chilly winter breezes and the sweet smells of all the Christmas treats! Just wow! I wish I could go to those places!

Romance: There was quite a bit of emphasis (I would say) on romance in this book. Jamie clearly has feelings for Charlotte, but understands that he cannot get to close to her because of her past. Charlotte tries a lot in this book to get comfortable again with being intimate. It is not easy and doesn’t happen within a scene. It is gradual, slow and honestly melted my heart. I ship it hardcore, but after that ending and reading the third books synopsis, things seem to be in danger!

Cover: JUST LOVE IT! Ahhh. I love that it gives away (not many) but some of the events in the book!

Mystery and Suspense: A very important element in these kind of books. I loved following Charlotte and Jamie on this new case. I always try and follow along to see if I can make any sense of what is happening or figure out the twist. BUT NOPE. I am no detective, I did not see any of those things happening. I loved their heist pulling and the auction scene was one of my favourite scenes in the book! Hilarious and fun!

What I Disliked

What the Heck Happened At The End? I Am Very Confused, Someone Please Explain This To Me: Yeah, I didn’t get it. Well, it’s not that I was completely lost, it’s more that I didn’t understand the significance and severity about what happened that keeps me from saying this book was perfect! I honestly need an explanation as to how the ending affected the characters! Send. Help.


Overall, I did enjoy this book! Not as much as the first one, but I did like it a lot! The mystery, the action…perhaps a little too much romantic tension? But I still liked it either way! I cannot wait for the final book, which comes out in March! *sweats nervously* That is so far off!!!

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Recommend: Yeah! But obviously read A Study in Charlotte first because if you don’t you’ll be more confused then I am!

Let me know what you thought of this book? Any explanations as to the ending? Any Sherlockians out there angry at me for not actually knowing anything about Sherlock? XP

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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