Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #23 and 24

Welcome to my weekly throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

#23 The Old Motel MysteryThe kids go with their Aunt Jane to visit her friend who owns a rundown motel in Florida. As usual, they’d rather spend their vacation fending for themselves instead of relaxing, so they stay in one of the rooms and tackle renovating the entire motel during their stay. They clean moss out of the pool, pick oranges, change bedspreads, help with roofing, you name it.

However, someone wants to sabotage their progress. Someone doesn’t seem to want the motel to prosper, and wants the owner to accept an offer a big chain made her. Someone dumps all the oranges they picked into the pool, steals paint, pours tar over new shingles, cuts power, and tries to flood their room.

They have a short suspect list: is it the handyman, who seems nice enough? Is it the student staying in one of the rooms? Or is it the older woman staying there who is always poking her nose where it doesn’t belong and has ties to the other hotel chain? I wonder…

I kind of remembered this book, but it didn’t stand out much. After rereading, I’m still pretty meh about it. What does stand out is the fact that the Aldens and their nosy neighbor are able to cook full meals and bake cookies in the kitchenette of a tiny motel. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen an oven in a hotel room of any kind short of a full resort with apartment-style rooms.

#24 The Mystery of the Hidden Painting: While looking in their own attic, they find a painting of their grandmother when she was much younger, and in it she’s wearing a special one-of-a-kind necklace that their grandfather had designed for her. Grandfather explains that the necklace was stolen a year after he gave it to her, so she put her own portrait in the attic to not be reminded of it. Since her death, he forgot it was even up there.

The kids are on the case, they’re going to find that necklace. By chance, they see a picture in the paper of a woman at an event and decide she’s wearing their grandmother’s necklace, despite it being a black and white blurry photo.

So they go on a chase to find the necklace. They talk to that woman who says that the necklace was borrowed from a local museum, who tells the kids that it was donated by a rich woman in town, who claims the necklace has always been hers. It eventually comes out that the woman’s son stole it from the Aldens when he worked as a caterer, and the necklace is returned.

I like the mysteries that revolve around their own life better. They seem a lot more real. I also like seeing a bit of their background. I wonder if any of the books actually tackle the topic of the children’s parents, who they were and how they died. None did that I can remember.

Breaking Rules by Tracie Puckett

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I downloaded this book during an ebook sale quite a while ago and just now got around to reading it. I was not compensated for this review in any way.

I did not mean to read two books by the same author back to back but this was the next one on my list. I liked the first one a lot better than this one.

Mandy is an identical twin who moved to Sugar Creek from LA with her sister and father. While they both immediately made connections, her father took office and her sister became a social butterfly, Mandy is determined not to get attached because she knows they will have to pick up and move again eventually.

She eventually joins a volunteer initiative because she could win a scholarship, in order to become independent and study English like she wants and become a writer. What she didn’t expect was Gabe, literally. She’s on her way to the first day when she hits a guy with her car. It turns out he’s the head of Raddick Initiative, the company running the volunteer program.

As Gabe starts to insert himself into her life, Mandy tries to deny the feelings she’s developing for him. She wants to stick to her ‘no attachment’ rule.

After her father tells them they’re moving back to LA, Mandy realizes she’s afraid of losing Gabe, and goes to a publicity event he’s speaking at, and spills her guts, and doesn’t exactly get the desired reaction from Gabe.

Like I said, I didn’t like this book as much. The ending was pretty cringey honestly, it was the cliche public display of affection in front of a crowd from every romantic comedy, except it goes wrong, which is even worse. Why it goes wrong is understandable, as Mandy forgets over the entire book as she’s debating her feelings that Gabe is technically a mentor of sorts, she’s 17 and he’s 21, and the whole relationship would be super weird for all involved and mostly inappropriate.

Like the last book, there’s forbidden love done sweetly and right, and then there’s this. There are two more books in the series where I assume they get together in the end, but I don’t intend on reading on.

If you’d like to judge for yourself, click below to go to Amazon to buy the book. This is an affiliate link, so any purchases will go towards supporting this site. I was not compensated in any way to write this review. As of the time of this writing, the Kindle version of book #1 is free.

Breaking Rules

Weekly Pinterest Roundup — February 13

Welcome to my weekly Pinterest roundup, no images belong to me, only their respective owners. Click each picture to go to the link.

Pinterest is a huge help in my day-to-day life, I use stuff from it every single day from recipes to fitness routines to just cool lifestyle ideas. Every week I like to round up a few things that I really liked recently.

Inspirational:

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We’re going to be getting a cat soon, and this looks like a fun easy project.

Food:

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Easy slow cooker recipes are the best, and this one looks great!

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Mexican and Italian food in one dish? Yes please.

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These look delicious and easy to make.

Style:

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I love this simple look, ahh summer, where are you?

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Such a cute dress, I love this shade of pink/salmon.

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This is so elegant!

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And finally, a dress I would actually wear.

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #21 and 22

Welcome to my weekly throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

What We Missed: #20 The Haunted Cabin Mystery. Apparently the kids take a paddleboat to go visit someone who lives in a cabin and scary things happen.

Starting with #20, these books are no longer written by the original author. It’s interesting to see the switch and what they changed, which I’ll talk about more in each review.

#21 The Deserted Library Mystery: Seeing as I love books, I was surprised that I didn’t really remember this one. There’s a library that’s been abandoned and their grandfather wants it turned into a historical site, so he volunteers the kids to go live in a friend’s summer home and fix up the library. A group of kids, 5, 10, 12 and 14. By themselves. But okay.

While cleaning up, they find a couple of parts to an old Civil War sword, so Henry calls their grandfather to tell him about it, in a diner with people around. Surprise, they start getting unwanted visitors in the library when they’re not there, someone’s looking for the sword. They also find a boy in the library who stole part of their lunch, he’s hiding out because his father may have been lost at sea and he doesn’t want to be sent away. He pitches in to help the kids clean and they still find evidence of an intruder, who starts creeping around the house they’re staying in too, trying to scare them off. Jessie has a run-in with him and hears someone humming a strange tune.

When their grandfather comes to town to see the progress and find the boy’s father who had been rescued from his boat accident (because of course), Jessie hears the tune again while they’re celebrating in the diner, and they turn the intruder over to the sheriff. Turns out he’s been robbing every place in town.

The library is preserved, and the sword ends up in a museum in Boston called the ‘Boston Museum’. Being from the area, pretty sure that’s not a thing, but I guess I’ll give it a pass for being fiction. Why not the Smithsonian or somewhere like that though?

#22 The Animal Shelter Mystery: I remember this one a lot more, it was probably one I read the most. The kids are at home when they find a cat on their porch with a note that says the owner needed a home for the cat and thought they’d be best. They make it their mission in life to find the cat’s owner and figure out why they were getting rid of their pet. They find out the cat belongs to an old woman who has gone missing, there are strange men at her house that don’t want the kids around.

The kids are currently volunteering at the animal shelter for the summer and find out that the founder is shutting it down unexpectedly. More and more animals keep popping up that belonged to the old woman as well. The kids decide to take in some animals from the shelter, making a makeshift shelter in their old boxcar. This was always my favorite part, I loved the idea of running my own shelter and the way they set up an office in their garage.

They find an old deed that shows the old woman’s house and the land the shelter was on both belonged to her father, and conveniently, the land is about to be up for sale because the deed was never filed. The old woman shows up at the boxcar to see her old pets and the kids inform her of the deed. Their grandfather rushes to town hall to file the deed and her father’s will, proving she still owns the land. Her house and the shelter are saved, and they find out she was the mysterious founder of the shelter.

 

So we’ve essentially started over once the new authors took over. The kids are young again, and it seems like they didn’t even read any of the books other than the first one. The kitten Violet receives in book 16 is not mentioned at all, they act like they don’t own a cat when the strange one turns up at their house. The lack of continuity is pretty disappointing.

The New Girl by Tracie Puckett

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I downloaded this book during an ebook sale quite a while ago and just now got around to reading it. I was not compensated for this review in any way.

Steph is not your average girl. She’s been in 11 different schools and she’s only 17. Also, her real name is Abcdef Ghijk. Her mom is a bit of a free spirit who packs them up and moves whenever she feels like it, or for a promise of a better life. This time though, her mom promises that they are going to stay in Webster Grove: she’s met a good man this time.

Steph finds it hard to believe, but makes the best of it, making new friends and signing up for the school play designing costumes. It doesn’t hurt that her hunky young teacher is also running the play.

It’s a bit of a surprise when she finally meets her mom’s boyfriend, and he brings his little brother along: Alex Rivera, aka Steph’s teacher.

I really liked this book, it was short and sweet, with less than 200 pages. The teacher-student dynamic was also done very well, not lust-filled, but making a personal connection. Alex can immediately see she has issues with her home life and wants to make things better. They also never cross any inappropriate boundaries either, it’s just sweet. Their connection is obvious, but they’re not going to make a move at this time.

There are a number of books in this series, and like the last book I read, it doesn’t feel like a total cash grab. Their saga could be one long book, but I do like a nice short book to read for once. I won’t be purchasing the other books at this time, but I’m definitely interested in reading them in the future.

Click below to go to Amazon to buy the book. This is an affiliate link, so any purchases will go towards supporting this site. I was not compensated in any way to write this review. As of the time of this writing, the Kindle version of book #1 is free.

The New Girl

Weekly Pinterest Roundup — February 6

Welcome to my weekly Pinterest roundup, no images belong to me, only their respective owners. Click each picture to go to the link.

Pinterest is a huge help in my day-to-day life, I use stuff from it every single day from recipes to fitness routines to just cool lifestyle ideas. Every week I like to round up a few things that I really liked recently.

Food focused post!

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It’s blood orange season and I have a load of small ones in my fridge that hopefully haven’t gone bad. I love the ideas of these recipes!

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Blood orange turmeric upside down pound cake

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Blood orange and cardamom olive oil pound cake

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Garlic and paprika chicken. I got a load of chicken legs on clearance so I was looking for some good recipes to use them with.

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I had some mushrooms to use up so I found this delicious side dish. It tastes great as a lunch too!

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Shrimp scampi fettuccine, this looks absolutely delicious.

 

Throwback Book Review: Boxcar Children #17 and 19

Welcome to my weekly throwback book review! Each week I’ll be rereading and reviewing one or two books from my childhood. I was a huge reader as a child and these books shaped my life. I couldn’t possibly get rid of them, so I still have a large collection that I am sharing with all of you in the form of reviews.

#17 Mystery Behind the Wall is special to me because it was the book that introduced me to the series. You can see how dog eared and worn it is. As I think I said before, I got this through the Scholastic book club and loved reading them ever since.

The kids are bored again, especially Benny, so their housekeeper suggests inviting a friend to visit for a while. Thankfully this time it isn’t Mike, it’s a boy from Canada that she knows named Rory. They put him in the room beside Benny’s, and the two boys decide to make a hole through their closets for a telegraph system of sorts. The hole is all but forgotten when they cut it and find a strange piece of blue cloth and a diary from the girl who lived in the house years and years ago.

Stephanie Shaw was an avid coin collector, and the blue cloth was one she used to hold her collection… except there are no coins on it. Smells like a mystery! The kids discover that she made a scavenger hunt for her father leading to the coins, but after they moved away from the house, he never followed the clues so the coins stayed lost.

Of course the kids figure out all the clues and eventually find the coins still hidden just where she left them. Their grandfather of course knows an avid coin collector who knew Stephanie, so he has him make a house call. He buys the collection from the kids and gives them each a coin for themselves.

I remembered a lot of this book, and it still holds up pretty well. It’s definitely still one of my favorite of the series.

What We Missed: #18 Bus Station Mystery. Apparently the kids were on a trip by bus to a science fair when the weather strands them at the bus station and they have to solve a mystery involving pollution. I never read this one.

#19 Benny Uncovers a Mystery: First of all, this cover. Benny is old enough to get a job in a department store (though we still have no idea how old he is!) yet on the cover he’s like 10.

Benny is bored yet again, as most of these mysteries begin, so he and Henry decide to get jobs at the local department store. The first floor manager seems like he’s going to be the source of their next mystery, as he’s gruff and seems to hate the Aldens for no reason. The real mystery is that someone is leaving nice notes for the employees, and there is a mysterious woman who comes in every day who is super picky and annoying. Then an expensive vase Henry orders goes missing and some random lockets no one ordered show up one day.

Henry stays late at the store one night to do some cleaning and keep an eye out when someone tries to open the door but gives up. He does see the first floor manager there when no one is supposed to be in the store, and the man accuses Henry of being the one messing around with things.

All of the employees are invited to a picnic at the picky old lady’s house where she reveals (and Benny had already figured out) that she is the owner who had bought the store, and she was keeping an eye on how it was run before making any changes. She had had a key before they changed the locks so she was going in at night and leaving the lockets and other things.

While the mystery wasn’t a huge deal, I liked this one, and I think I liked it better on this reread than previously. Probably because I’ve now had tons of retail experience. This seemed like a nice believable mystery for kids to solve.

This is the end of the original 19 books written by Gertrude Chandler Warner, so I’m interested to see if I notice any difference with the newer ones. This last book was published in 1976. What I do remember is that the kids I believe return to their younger ages, and the mysteries get more in depth, like they’re consulting with the police and everything. We’ll see how my memory holds up.