Book Review: “Deadly Jellybean Affair”–Marsh

“The Deadly Jellybean Affair” by Carrie Marsh was published May 29, 2017 by Smiling House Publishing Co. It is around 318 pages; and is a cozy mystery. A preview of another book is included at the end. In exchange for an honest review I received an advanced reader copy. I am not being paid for my review.

Synopsis (my summary):

The heroine, Mary, and her friend stumble on the dead body of a girl she recently hired to work in her new bead shop. Mary’s son works in the police department and doesn’t appreciate his mother snooping around the crime. Mary however brushes off her magic skills and works hard to figure out what happens. Of course she has a cat she talks to.

Rating Legend: 1-Didn’t like it (complete fail) 2-It was alright (below average), 3-I liked it (average), 4-It was pretty good/well done (above average), 5-It was excellent (excellent.)

Ratings (1-5 scale):

  • Overall: 3
  • Heroine: 3.5
  • Hero (the cat): 3

Review:

The Deadly Jellybean Affair is a cute cozy mystery. As typical the police, in this case the heroines’ son, are stumped, or attempting to blame the wrong party. So the heroine has to step in to figure it out for them. This one the heroine is a witch and uses her spell casting ability to help her. She also has a cat that only she talks to. The cat helps her solve the crime and works to point out things to the heroine.

I liked the interactions between the heroine and her son. She figures out who committed the crime before he can. When it comes to finding out the details of the case from the police she is sneaky and a bit deceptive.

Some items:

  • There were some formatting, awkward sentences, run-on sentences, and punctuation issues. At times it wasn’t clear who was talking.
  • There were sections where I would have liked to be shown instead of told.
  • There were too many characters floating around.
  • There were a few point of view issues.

Overall I liked this novel.

Book Review Ratings

In the time I have been doing reviews I have come across a growing trend. Those who believe that books should only get 4 or 5 star ratings. This includes authors and blog book review sites who ask for an “honest review” of a 4 or 5 star rating. Anything lower and the reviewer is requested to contact the author, or site admin, prior to posting. Among the reasons why they want only 4 or 5 star ratings:

  • The overall rating of the book has to stay close to a 5
  • It is respectful of the author
  • Anyone who rates lower than a 4 has ulterior motives
  • Anything else has to be a fake review.
  • Nothing will ever be perfect
  • If you enjoyed the story it should get at least a 4

I understand that it takes time and energy to write a novel. And to the author the book has to be perfection, or at least near perfect. As such they would only want the highest rating possible. Especially from those on their advanced copy reader lists. However; it is hypocritical to ask for an honest review so long as it is a 4 or 5 star. This to me takes away from the “honest review” and casts a shadow on all star ratings.

Here are some of the things I look for in a novel:

  • Compelling plot. The story should draw me in within the first few pages.
  • Characters that are three dimensional, a bit flawed, realistic, and consistent.
  • Any facts are actual facts.

When it comes to reviews here are some of the items that cause me to lower a rating:

  • Lack of research: this can be any “fact” that is either a well known item that the author got wrong; or any “fact” that a simple internet search could clear up.
  • Technical issues: formatting, spacing, spelling, run-on sentences, grammar issues.
  • Character issues: consistency, point of view issues, too many characters.
  • Plot and sub-plot issues: too many different plots and sub-plots that a chart is needed.
  • Too much redundancy
  • Too much telling vs showing

If a novel earns a 4 or 5 star rating I give it that rating. If it has too many issues then I give it a lower rating.

Book Review “The Dead Among Us” By Carrie Marsh

“The Dead Among Us” by Carrie Marsh was published March 10, 2017 by Smiling House Publishing Co. It is a cozy mystery and the fourth in the Millerfield Village series. I got the book as a free download. I am not being paid for my review.

Synopsis (my summary):

While the heroine is helping her friend prepare for her wedding she uncovers a mystery. A ghost is scaring people near her friends bed and breakfast. She can still communicate with her cat. In this mystery the heroine finds a portal that takes her back in time. The murder she uncovers back then ties in with the ghost.

Rating Legend: 1-Didn’t like it 2-It was alright, 3-I liked it, 4-It was pretty good/well done, 5-It was excellent

Ratings (1-5):

  • Overall: 2
  • Heroine: 1.5
  • Hero: 1.5
  • Read again: no

Review:

This novel starts out in the past with an English Count meeting his lawyer. The lawyer seems upset by a decision that the Count has made. The novel then jumps to the present where the heroine and her friend first see what they believe to be a ghost. From there the novel focuses on searching for the ghost. It isn’t until later in the story where the heroine finds a portal to the past.  While in the past she finds a murder. It is with the help of her telepathic link to her cat that she finds her way back to the present.

The rest of the book is focused on solving the murder in the past and figuring out who the ghost is and what he wants. The hero and heroine lay something of a trap for the person they believe to be the villain. Only when the villain takes the bait and the action scene occurs it gets cut off in the middle. There is no big reveal to answer if they were right in their assumptions.

Some items:

  • Lack of editing and proofreading. There were formatting, awkward sentences, punctuation, grammar, word choice, and consistency issues.
  • The readers is told about things that they should have been shown.
  • There are scenes and details that don’t really add to the forward momentum to the story.  There were times when a bit more detail would be nice.
  • A bit of research would have helped avoid some items.
  • There were too many characters floating around.
  • Characters didn’t act in believable ways at times.

Overall the story is cute. This book is better overall than the last two that I read by Carrie Marsh. As I said last time a better editor/proofreader might have helped avoid the issues that took from my enjoyment of the novel.