- File Size: 1367 KB
- Print Length: 263 pages
- Publisher: Red Frog Publishing (February 2, 2012)
- Publication Date: February 2, 2012
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0075BCSPM
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,586 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$9.99|
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Alexis Tappendorf and the Search for Beale's Treasure (The Alexis Tappendorf Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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So, we get two very different heroines who immediately bond and become best friends. Just pick your favorite and then root for both of them. There's a bit of family drama when Alexis is farmed out to Great Aunt Mae for the summer, but that's just for starters and blows over quickly. There's an over-the-top bully bad guy, but we don't beat it to death, and he's mostly around to add some menace and to make the treasure hunt a race. There's no swoony, distracting, unbelievable romance. We're treasure hunting, and both girls' families could use a little treasure, but there's no belabored sob story. Everything is in balance, restrained and well crafted.
Mysterywise, we have to solve cyphers and cryptograms and figure out vague clues and do a little digging and overland adventuring. And the puzzles and clues are fair and interesting. This isn't like lazy books that just drop solutions into the heroines' laps. Someone doesn't just think really hard for a minute and solve a hundred year old puzzle. No one suddenly notices that the combination to the lock is also the prime root of the number representing a possum's average weight in ounces. No sir, the girls have to actually think and to try a whole bunch of different angles to get to their puzzle solving reward.
But this isn't just a dry puzzle story. Alexis and Olivia are appealing characters, with distinct and engaging personalities. Sometimes their dialogue leans a little toward exposition and monologuing, but mostly they sound like and come across like real girls on an adventure. There are a lot of little details and grace notes that add color and ground the story in something like reality. So, it's entertaining and if it's a bit old-fashioned in a Nancy Drew kind of way, well there's a reason why those sorts of books have been loved and remembered by generations of thrilled readers. And at bottom, that's the best you could want.
Please note that I found this book back when it was an Amazon Kindle freebies. (It's currently a kindleunlimited free read.) I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
Firstly, it is well written in a punchy style, well suited to its target audience. I was a little disappointed by the ‘code enigma’ but that was probably my fault, not the book’s. I went back to it before writing this review and believe it is well-suited to a young audience. I’d recommend it.
However, it could have been so much better with just a little bit of work! Mild spoiler alert, stop reading if you don't want to hear any.
I love the "good guy" characters. The writer has invested a lot of time in making them seem real and exactly the sort of people I would love to meet in real life. This makes it easy to cheer for Alexis, her grandaunt, her new BFF and family.
However, the bad guys are just that, BAD, with absolutely no redeeming qualities at all. Not only are they bad, their WHOLE FAMILY is bad, and it HAS been bad for generations. Murderers, liars, bullies and cheats, the lot of them, for at least the last 200 years, and never has a family line deserved to die out more than the Woodmores of Summervale, Virginia. This makes for very flat reading, as if a Scooby Doo cartoon was put on paper. Why put so much effort into the good guys if the bad guys are just going to be cardboard cut-outs of villains with long black handlebar mustaches?
The other thing that caused a jolt in the narrative for me was the description of Virginia. You see, I live here in Virginia, and I love my state. Whenever I see that a writer has placed his or her story in Virginia, it makes me happy. It's not a requirement, mind you, but it does make me smile and make me love that book "just a tetch" more. However, Summervale sounds like a lovely town, but it sure isn't in Virginia. Here's a quote, from where Olivia is talking to Alexis about where they should look for treasure,"I don't know if you've noticed the terrain around Virginia, but the only places where there are stones are near the water. Everything else is pretty much clay or dirt."
What? No stones in Virginia? The Blue Ridge Mountains cut right through the middle of the state! All the old cabins that still exist from the 1700s and later are made of timber and fieldstone. Stones, that came from fields! I can name at least half a dozen farmers that would LOVE for there to be no stones in their fields.
A bit later in the book, the writer talks about how humid it is in August in Virginia, and she's right. Then she spoils it by stating the outside temperature as being 80 degrees F. Oh my, how I wish it was 80 degrees and not the actual high 90s/low 100s of August in Virginia!
OK, to most readers these points won't matter much. "It's fiction, deal with it," I can hear some people say. However, if you are going to set your story in a REAL place, please do your research! Summervale is a fictional town, but Ms. Smith chose to set it in Virginia, and at that point she voluntarily placed restrictions on herself. Virginia is real, and needs to be recognizable to those of us who know it well.
It's like pouring yourself a glass of sweet tea only to find someone had mistakenly switched salt for the sugar.
Incidentally, when the story moved to Colorado, I couldn't help but wonder, "Is this really Colorado?" Knowing that Virginia wasn't Virginia made me question the rest of the setting, and that took me out of the story...a real shame for any reader. Don't we all love to be fully immersed in a book to the point to feel we are right there?
Despite its flaws, I did enjoy this book, and look forward to the continuing adventures of Alexis and Olivia. I only hope that Ms. Smith devotes a bit more time to research with her next installment.