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Book Review Blog

Title: The Test Case

Series: The Hardy Boys

Author: Franklin W. Dixon

Release Date: January 1, 2002

Publisher: Aladdin

Purchase: Unfortunately, this book is out of print, but fortunately, it is available as a Kindle format on Amazon, or you can keep your eyes out on it in your local secondhand bookstore, used Amazon, or Better World Books. Or, check if your local public library has it.

Add it on Goodreads

Rating: ★★★★☆


A new statewide test has all the students at Bayport High on edge. Then Joe and his friend Tony find one of the tests in Tony’s bookbag. Joe knows Tony didn’t steal it, but the assistant principal isn’t so understanding: He suspends them both!
Joe talks to the truck driver who delivered the tests, as well as the owner of a tutoring service who promises amazing improvements in test scores. Frank checks out who could have put the test in Tony’s bag—a bag just like the one belonging to a star of the hockey team. Joe and Tony are still in the penalty box, but the Hardys are determined to ace this case!


My Review:

I'm so glad I finally picked up The Test Case on my Kindle after it's been on my TBR for so long.

This installment of the Hardy Boys series starts off with a fun ice-skating party in Bayport, giving me the nice winter vibes, before things get intense when Joe and his friend, Tony find one of the tests for the State Achievement Battery (SAB), a statewide test that is a must for all students at Bayport High to take, in Tony's backpack! Neither Joe nor Tony took the test. So how is it in Tony's backpack? Unfortunately, the assistant principal wasn't so understanding as he suspends them both!

As how I expected him to be, loved how Frank wasn't dumb to believe that Joe and Tony cheated - I knew he'd believe that his brother was innocent and would do everything to clear his name. As usual, like in any Hardy Boys book, loved the amazing brother teamwork. In this particular installment though, I was especially impressed with the fact that, despite the Hardys being separated (with Frank at school and Joe being suspended), how they managed to still be able to work together!

The beginning of The Test Case was slow, but as the mystery progressed, it became intriguing with intense scenes as the case of the missing test really sounded fishy. 👀

Who was that mysterious person that students in Bayport High kept getting calls from, selling them the test? Also, it really sounded strange that Tony was in the same place at the same time as the delivery truck and the cartons of test... Yes, I said that right. Their friend was a suspect too! 👀

I couldn't believe just how stupid the principal, Mr. Chambers, was. I hoped that he'd at least be a bit smarter than his assistant and investigate the issue further, but it turned out he was just as stupid, maybe even worse! It was so horrifying how he was making Joe and Tony sign a confession for something they didn't even do, just wanting to sweep the issue under the rug! Confessing to something you didn't do is just not right and unfair! It seemed to me that he cared more about the reputation of the school than who was guilty. Great for Joe speaking up and fighting for his right, with Frank's support, of course.

Finally, while I really enjoyed this Hardy Boys book and found it intriguing, there were a few issues I had with it that made me knock out a star. First, there was a little mess in the writing somewhere in the middle of the book (for e.g. the author seems to have forgotten that it was Iola who introduced that Brendan guy to Frank), but that issue wasn't much compared to the ending. Honestly, I expected the ending to be way better than that. But instead, it felt rushed, and it kinda left me with open-ended questions and didn't seem to tie up. It left me with 'And then...?'

***Spoiler*** I know Carl got a consequence for being rude to the coach, but I can't help but wonder. What about the consequences for icing the Hardys' driveaway, leaving a threatening note in Callie's locker, and throwing the puck at the Hardys' window? And about the hockey coach, Dobeney. Okay, so I got his motive for attempting to frame Brad Austin, but the bigger question was: Why did he choose to betray Bayport's hockey team? We never got an answer to that. Also, did Mr. Chambers finally lift Joe and Tony's suspensions after finally knowing who the real criminal was? We never got an answer to that, either. ***Spoiler***

Overall, other than the issues, I really enjoyed this Hardy Boys book, and would recommend to Hardy Boys fans.

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Title: Chimera

Series: Korsak Brothers

Author: Rob Thurman

Release Date: June 1, 2010

Publisher: Roc

Purchase: Since this book is out of print, you can keep your eyes out on it in your local secondhand bookstore, used Amazon, or Better World Books. Or, check if your local public library has it.

Add it on Goodreads

Rating: ★★★★☆


A sci-fi thriller that asks the questions...

What makes us human...
What makes us unique...
And what makes us kill?

Ten years ago, Stefan Korsak's younger brother was kidnapped. Not a day has passed that Stefan hasn't thought about him. As a rising figure in the Russian mafia, he has finally found him. But when he rescues Lukas, he must confront a terrible truth-his brother is no longer his brother. He is a trained, genetically-altered killer. Now, those who created him will do anything to reclaim him. And the closer Stefan grows to his brother, the more he realizes that saving Lukas may be easier than surviving him...


My Review:

After procrastinating on it for a while, I finally picked up Rob Thurman's Chimera.

Okay, so I'm not usually a fantasy or sci-fi reader, but after hearing about all the brother feels it's got based on the reviews I've read, I instantly wanted to get my hands on it. I've thought of trying the author's Cal Leandros series first, but after a friend warned me about all the sexual content they've got - which I'm not a fan of - and suggested that I try The Korsak Brothers instead, I instantly went for it.

It's been sitting on my shelf for so long staring at me after I bought it, screaming, "READ ME!" But of course, as I was afraid I might not end up enjoying it because it's in the genre that I usually don't read in - especially after my sister borrowed it from me and ended up not finishing it because it was "confusing" - I was hesitant, thinking maybe I've wasted my money after all. Also, besides procrastinating on a book I'm excited to read, admittedly, I'm also someone who procrastinates on big books, especially as an extremely slow reader. 🙈

I'm so glad now that I finally picked it up after a while. Now I really want the sequel! 🥺

The first Korsak Brothers book, Chimera, follows Stefan Korsak, a young man who has lived for one thing for the past ten years of his life - find his brother and bring him home. But when Stefan finally finds him, it isn't as he'd expected. His brother, Lukas/Michael, is brainwashed, trained to kill.

Usually, prologues are famous for losing a reader, but for some reason, Chimera's prologue pulled me right in, which instantly gave me feelings of optimism for this book. The description of the dream sounded somewhat calm and magical... riding a horse in a field on a bright sunny day with the sky "blazing blue" and smelling the "sweet green smell of grass". The descriptions were just so... vivid and beautiful that I really felt like I was there. 🥺😌

Chimera was an intriguing read that kept me reading until the end. When Stefan finally rescues his brother from that Institute, they get chased by those who created his brother and would do anything to reclaim him...

Only when Stefan and his brother think they're finally safe and away from them, they suddenly reappear out of nowhere...

It was such a mystery how they kept finding them so quickly and seemed to know where they were right away... 👀

One of the things I loved most about this book was how Stefan was unwilling to give up on his brother - no matter how dangerous the circumstances were. Ahhh, the brother feels. 🥺 There was one moment between the brothers near the end of the book that made me melt so much I swear I almost peed. 🥺😭

I also really enjoyed the humor added in.

And the twist - OMG, the twist! - I really didn't see it coming! 😭 I was so shocked that I had to keep pausing, and read it over and over to process it. Hell, I even kinda almost cried! 😅

This may be my first book by Thurman, but I could already see that she's got talent in surprising a reader.

Finally, while I really enjoyed the first book of The Korsak Brothers and all the brother feels it gave me, there were some things I didn't like about it and parts that irritated me that made me knock out a star.

As someone who's not used to the sci-fi genre, there were some things that were confusing for me. For instance, it was hard for me to understand all that scientific stuff - I guess that's my problem since I'm someone who's never been into science, anyway. 🙈 The confusion wasn't just about the genre, though. The stuff about Stefan murdering Vasily and what it had to do with being screwed with his boss... I just didn't get it! 😫

Also, there were a few times where I had to keep rereading a sentence or paragraph in order to be able to understand something, or even go back to previous chapters to remember some particular things. I'm not sure if it was just me, but some parts were just a bit too over-descriptive, which kinda made it hard to catch up and a distraction from enjoying the story.

The innuendos may be few, but they still made me squirm. Whether it's a YA or Adult book, there are things I believe should just NOT be talked about at all.

While I really liked Stefan and admired his unwillingness to give up on his brother, there were times when I felt really annoyed at him and felt like he was an idiot. For instance, why would you risk picking up a hitchhiker you had suspicions for in the first place? It just didn't make sense!

Okay, so that might make me sound preachy, but I also felt a bit uncomfortable with some of his immoral acts, for instance, shoplifting and stealing cars... I mean, I really do get that authors should not sound preachy in their writings... but at least, I would have liked to see an acknowledgement that these things are wrong and not the answer. And then there was that part that annoyed me the most and made me cringe - when one guy accidently hits the rear end of their car with his truck due to bad weather, Stefan gets all pissy at him, despite the guy being sincerely sorry and even trying to get them help. But believe it or not, as a way of thanking the guy who was going out of his way to get them help, Stefan thinks of stealing his truck! Reading that part made me feel bad and horrified. What a way to thank someone who was trying to help you!

Overall, despite the few things that annoyed me, I really enjoyed the first book of The Korsak Brothers, especially all the brother feels. 🥺😭 I already miss Stefan and Michael a lot, and already making plans to purchase the sequel soon, despite still having some unread books left to read. 🙈😉

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Title: The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn

Series: Nancy Drew Diaries

Author: Carolyn Keene (Pen name)

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Publisher: Aladdin

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

Add it on Goodreads

Rating: ★★★★★


Nancy and her friends find themselves at a haunted inn with a mystery to solve in this thirteenth book of the Nancy Drew Diaries, a fresh approach to the classic mystery series.
When Nancy and Bess accompany George to a cousin’s wedding in historic Charleston, South Carolina, they end up staying at an old inn near the family’s home with the rest of the guests. But when they begin hearing strange noises and witnessing unexplained phenomena at night—they soon discover that it’s one of Charleston’s most haunted hotels! When the wedding rings disappear during one of these spooky evenings, Nancy knows she’s got to get to the bottom of this ghostly mystery…before there isn’t a happily ever after.


My Review:

First, let me start off with just how much I'm in love with this amazing cover of this particular installment in the Nancy Drew Diaries series. It's a cover that intrigues a reader right in, making them want to dive into the book right away and explore the rest of this inn.

The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn has been one of my all-time favorite Nancy Drew books ever since I read it when it came out. How I regret not rereading it earlier! 🥺 As I mentioned before though, I do procrastinate a lot when it comes to rereading a favorite book. 😅

Synopsis correction: When Nancy and George accompany Bess to a cousin’s wedding in historic Charleston, South Carolina, they end up staying at an old inn near the family’s home with the rest of the guests.

This installment in the Nancy Drew Diaries series, The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn, follows Nancy and her friends as they investigate the strange happenings that has been going on at the inn - who's been playing ghost and sneaking into the rooms at night despite the doors being locked tight and the windows secured -, and find out who's been trying to sabotage Charlotte's wedding.

The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn is a book that intrigued me until the end, as I wondered who was so envious towards the bride or groom that they would go length to ruin the wedding. Who would go out of their way to do such a cruel thing to ruin someone's important day?

I loved how in-character Nancy was written - a determined, brave Nancy willing to do the right thing despite the dangers involved. Also, the intelligent Nancy who was smart enough to know that there were logical explanations for all these "ghostly" incidents. Getting the characters true is always important. I also enjoyed George's sense of humor - she's always been one of my favorite characters in the Nancy Drew series.

Also, I liked the bride and groom, Charlotte and Parker, a lot. I agree with my HB/ND reading friend Ann, who's also read the book, about how likeable they were (Check out her review here). I was so anxious for them to have the happily ever after that they deserved.

The descriptions of the city of Charleston and the inn was nice.

Despite never being a fan of romance, I found the romance in The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn lovely.

Finally, besides an intriguing mystery, The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn includes sensitivity that's related to marriage - you'll have to read it to find out what I mean! - and some powerful messages such as, not letting jealousy get the best of us, being careful with who we should trust, and forgiveness. There was one part near the end that made me feel a bit emotional, and some things that I found myself being able to relate to. 🥺

Overall, reading The Ghost of Grey Fox Inn the second time has been as enjoyable as the first time, and I would definitely recommend it to all the Nancy Drew and mystery fans out there.

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