Book Review, Fiction, Middle Grade, Review, Thriller

Book Review Round-Up: September 2022

5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 1 vote

Review of ‘The Woman Under the Water’, by Penny Goetjen

The premise of this book is quite interesting: A man disappears under mysterious circumstances and a woman is left, seven years later, still dealing with the aftermath.  But I think what bothered me is that the book was marketing to me as a thriller.  I went in with a certain set of expectations that were not met.  However, had the book been marketed as an exploration of what happens to a woman whose husband disappeared seven years ago, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.

While well-written, the character development didn’t always make sense, and characters did things that either didn’t make sense or were not really explained.  There was a plot line that could be seen coming from miles away (keeping it vague on purpose here).  And while the answer to the question what happened was well explained but at the same time there was no tension, which brings me back again to the book’s marketing.

So go into it asking yourself the right question – what happens when your husband goes missing for seven years – and you’ll enjoy this read much more than if you expect a heart-pounding thriller.

Review of ‘The Hayley Mysteries: The Secret on Set’ and ‘The Hayley Mysteries: The Missing Jewels’, by Hayley Leblanc

As my little one’s reading skills evolve, I’ve started reaching for middle grade reads in order to have a number of good books waiting for her when she reaches that reading level.  And these two books in The Hayley Mysteries series made the cut.

Written by a pre-teen, and there is a freshness, authenticity, and sweetness that I really appreciated.  It reminded me of so many conversations I have had with preteens in my work with them throughout the years.

The mysteries were straightforward and the investigations complex enough, with enough hints for readers to get a good idea of what may have happened without delivering it on a silver platter.  There are also moments of character growth and development that young readers will benefit from.  The situations and their resolutions are quite wholesome, and a great way for parents to have conversations about dynamics in friendships.  One such situation had one character lashing out at another as stress and self-doubt started getting the best of her; the resolution was balanced and well thought-out.

I didn’t find overt sexism or misogyny in the book, and there is a good amount of diversity in the characters.  I’m going to get my hands on the third book in the series, and hope that more are on the horizon!

Thank you to Raincoast Books and Simon & Schuester Canada for ARCs, to Orca Book Publishers for review copies, and thank you to all the publisher who sent me electronic ARCs through Netgalley!
5.00 avg. rating (99% score) - 1 vote

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