The Mystery Box: A Soccer Mom's Nightmare (The Mystery Book Collection 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 404 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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About the Author
- Publisher : Green Press (January 12, 2014)
- File size : 1377 KB
- Publication date : January 12, 2014
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 404 pages
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B008YQJEFY
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #973,115 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I normally don't read mystery books, but the short description of this one intrigued me. What was in that titular mystery box? The clue to solving a murder case? Something supernatural or fantastic in nature? The possibilities were endless, and I found myself wanting to know more. The fact that the e-book was free at the time didn't hurt anything either, and I figured I would be out pretty much nothing in giving this book a chance.
In the end, though, I found the book to be extremely mediocre. Not terrible, but bland and ultimately forgettable.
Yvette is a suburban mother in Texas, struggling to juggle a career as an online teacher with three kids, a husband, a dog, and everything else being a stay-at-home mother entails. When a box ends up on her doorstep, bearing her address but her next-door neighbor's name, she delivers the contents of said box (not the box for some strange reason) to Mona, the reclusive and crotchety woman who's long griped at her kids and dog through the back fence. Mona, quite uncharacteristically, invites Yvette into her house and, over the course of several days, tells her the story of her life. At first Yvette simply humors the lonely woman, but soon she finds herself drawn into her tale... and when Mona reveals they have a startling connection, Yvette realizes that she has to act to protect her family. But is the mysterious villain of Mona's tale the greater threat to her family... or Mona herself?
"The Mystery Box" is written in a combination of present and past tense, with Yvette's story in present tense and Mona's in past tense. I'm not sure why the author chose to write it this way, as it adds nothing to the story and comes across as the author trying to be "experimental." It wasn't even necessary to use this style to differentiate between Yvette and Mona's stories, as Mona's story is told in first person while Yvette's is in third person. A minor annoyance, but an annoyance nonetheless.
The writing in this book is sub-par, in my opinion. The plot has a tendency to meander, with the author pausing in the middle of the story to dump in a flashback or large chunks of exposition. And did we really need her to bring the plot crashing to a halt in order to drop in a Stockholm Syndrome definition that sounds like it came from Wikipedia? Surely this is something the reader is either smart enough to know already or can look up on their own. That and said definition segues into a story about Yvette's grandfather in WWII that has pretty much no impact on the rest of the plot. Also, the author has a tendency to repeat certain phrases over and over and over -- "No backbone" and "liar" and "idiot on morphine" and "hamster in a wheel." Sometimes we get several of these in one chapter, and it gets irritating fast.
The characters in this book are rather unlikable as well -- Yvette comes across as weak-willed, resentful, and whiny, while Mona is pushy to the point of creepiness (though I suppose the "creepy" was intentional on the part of the author). Most of the other characters are pretty much cardboard cutouts with no real personality. Even the villain seems to have walked into the book straight from a James Bond film or cheesy cartoon -- he's evil to the point of ridiculousness, and he comes across as cartoony and over-the-top. Having him be connected to the Taliban also adds practically nothing to the plot, and seems to have been thrown in simply to show how EEEE-VUL he is. Authors, please stop using the Taliban as a cheap plot device. There are more (and better) ways to make your characters antagonists than by giving them ties to the Taliban.
Yvette and Mona are constantly making stupid decisions as well, which stretched my willing suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. What kind of woman skips out on a family vacation just to listen to a neighbor she doesn't even like tell a story? Who tell someone to not call the police over a life-or-death matter and expects them to obey? Who dumps a loving fiancé just because their professor is hotter? Over and over these two women kept putting themselves in ridiculous situations and acting like airheads, until I finally stopped caring what happened to the. I was quite frankly more worried about Yvette's children than the two lead characters, if only because they didn't deserve to be put in danger because their mother was a bonehead.
I give this book two stars instead of one because the last quarter of the book DOES pick up, and it kept me reading and on the edge of my seat. But all in all, this is a series I won't be revisiting, and I can only be glad that I didn't spend actual money on it.
by Eva Pohler
Okay, First, there may be spoilers here, so read at your risk. Second, although this is on my threw-it-at-the-wall shelf, I did finish reading it, although it took a lot of determination to do so.
Okay. This book made me feel like I was back in one of my creative writing groups, reading/writing character sketches as a prelude to actually beginning a story. I was initially attracted to the book simply because of its title, as I am a sucker for mysteries! And, in the beginning, I was intrigued by this odd set up of a bored housewife becoming embroiled in a hated neighbor's life story. However, somewhere around 67% of the way through the book (reading on a Kindle), I realized that I was well over half way done and still reading back story. Voluminous, boring, unbelievable back story. Now, I'm also a fantasy fan, so suspending reality in favor of following an unrealistic premise is easy for me. Usually easy, but not so with this book. Heavy, maudlin, breast-beating, tear-jerking, uneven and just plain awkward writing for over half the book. It was about then that I started thinking about just deleting the book from my device and moving on to something more interesting. However, I decided to tough it out.
In all fairness, once I got to about 80%, it did pick up. The elements of the back story, which I still believe could have been about 50-75% shorter, began to come together; there is an interesting sequence of events which could either mean the main character and her family have made exactly the wrong decision or have made the only choice to be made; there is also a short, but truly exciting characters-in-mortal-danger section; and then on to the denouement. I figure I really enjoyed the first 1/8th of the novel and perhaps the last 1/8th of it -- but could have skipped the rest and still known exactly how everyone got to where they were in the end. And yes, figuring out the why and who the why was tied to was pretty darn easy.
Also, in the first part of the book (I quit looking for errors once I started thinking about not finishing the book, so these are all from early on) there are some pretty obvious proofreading problems:
At 418: "I jealous of them and enamored of him." No verb to be found.
Then, at 766, the author thinks there was a "...Shaw of Iran." <Big Sigh>
An example of awkward phrasing is found at 941: "Come in and have a seat." With black trousers, he wore a snug gray turtleneck.
At 2792 are two problems: "...I would surly starve as others of his victims had."
I think I'd be angry if I starved, too, but I'm betting that's not the word she wanted to use. Also, I think others probably should be other.
I made my last note at 3064, where we have this: "...Yvette listens to Mona's voice drone over the phone like a dying bird." And yes, by this point I felt like the whole story was a definite drone!
So, I finished the book. There were certainly moments here and there that were interesting, but more often than not, I found the book to be the perfect sleep elixir, and I was seldom able to stay awake more than 15-20 minutes while reading it.
So, no kudos from me on this one. Because I was so excited to read it (authors take note: your writing better live up to your title!) I walk away very disappointed.
The story isn't really plausable, (which is usually something I prefer) but it still works and the story keeps you interested and entertained throughout. I wanted to find out what happened to the woman who is telling the main character, a fascinating story, over a period of several days. Her story keeps the reader and the main character hanging on her every word. The author did a good job meshing past and present lives of 3 women.
Top reviews from other countries
I almost gave in with it quite early in as I happened across mistakes and as a rule if they start in early I'm going to need to plough through a heck of a lot more !! There WERE more but they got more evenly spaced out. However, they really ought to have been spotted.
The first was "Who you are you"? followed swiftly by "I jealous of them", "...and I will this look good on my application","...and gives out hugs kisses".....easily noticed, in my opinion. As was you're being used and not your, then surly and not surely, scraggily and not straggly and the and not then. All of these should never have got through an editing process and nor should quite a few misplaced apostrophes. Laptop is usually the one word as well. A few phrases that were mildly amusing the first and second times they were mentioned soon got on my nerves....a lot. The constant repetition of liar and no backbone got very tired indeed.
I've never heard of the word "suitemates" before which deputised for housemates, really and I wasn't sure what a garden home was. Not something I've heard of. Another phrase I found peculiar was "Her entire body is swollen and numb with dread".....that really means nothing at all. This sentence gave me pause till I realised all it needed was a simple hyphen for it to make immediate sense-"It's time sensitive information" then Yvette ruminates near the ending about her kids perhaps being in a position to witness somebody dying telling us they'd never witnessed a death when not 4 pages back they DID witness quite a horrible one !!
I enjoyed the story. It holds your interest with plenty of twist 'n' turns throughout although some of the characters irritated me as they lied quite a lot to nice people and therefore didn't endear themselves. I almost gave up nearing the end as the story seemed to be heading towards the wrong side of believability for me but thankfully it saved itself in time and pulled back !!
Sadly all these errors cost it one star for me. I would perhaps try another by the author but I wouldn't rush to add her to my favourites.
How the two women are linked is eventually revealed, but not until over half way through the book. Although the story is at times ridiculously far fetched, it is extremely compelling and I could not stop reading, this book is pure escapism and would make a brilliant film or mini series. I found it completely different to the usual thrillers that I read, but I really enjoyed it and would not hesitate to recommend it to others.