Earlier this month, I finally took the plunge and joined Netgalley, a site that allows book reviewers access to early reader copies of books in exchange for arc reviews. One book didn’t meet my expectations, and the other was an old favorite story in a new edition.
First up: Chloe Rose and the Enchanted Maze
The first book I read was “Chloe Rose and the Enchanted Maze,” by Veronica Elle Butler.
Netgalley/GenZ Publishing provided me an e-arc of this book to review; all opinions are my own honest views of this book.
I read a lot of middle grade books and have loved many. I had high hopes for this one because of the diverse main character, the cute cover, and the description. Sadly, it fell very flat.
The writing style was confusing – lots of run on sentences and inappropriate use of commas and semicolons that I hope get fixed by the final copy. It’s also very basic language even for a middle grade reader.
The plot is incredibly jumpy. For example, in one chapter the main character Chloe and her mother are trying to deal with the grief of the loss of her father, and then in the next chapter it’s a year later and her mom is suddenly trying to marry the king of their land? The ultra-fast pace with minimal transitions is confusing to keep up with. Ultimately, I feel this book was trying to do too many things and tackle too many topics which contributed to the jumpiness and lack of development.
There’s very little context or world/character building to help with the choppy plot. I don’t feel like I learned anything at all about Chloe in the entire book except that she likes flowers a lot, misses her dad, and cares about her friends. Her character is so flat, and so are the supporting characters. The plot gets a bit easier to follow in the later half of the book. But the whole time I was reading, I kept trying to figure out what Chloe’s motives were with the maze and what she really was seeking, overarching.
This book also has a lot of telling versus showing, unfortunately. There’s very little imagery evoked. Dialogue that doesn’t really fit the age of characters primarily drives the plot . The dialogue doesn’t really match my interpretation of the time period of the book- it seems very modern for a story with castles, kings, and no technology. Last, there are several plot holes or moments that just don’t make sense the way they’re written and had me scratching my head, looking back to see if I had missed something.
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend this one to my middle grade teacher friends or fellow adult middle grade fans as-is. With a lot of refining, it does have some potential however.
Next up, an old favorite: A Study in Scarlet
My next arc review was a new edition of A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This was a Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection version with a super cute cover. Again, I was provided this book by Netgalley and Sweet Cherry Publishing.
I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes and have read this story before, I think around seven years ago. It was fun to return to again!
In this story, you get a glimpse of Sherlock through the eyes of Watson. This first mystery in all of Sherlock’s world isn’t action packed, but it captures the detective we know and love, and leaves you wanting the next mystery in the series.
While not as lively as other Sherlock stories, it’s a good way to jump into the series without something long and harder to follow.
I’d recommend new Sherlock fans start here but stay open minded and make sure to read others that are more fun as well. And to not judge solely on this story!
That’s it for my arc reviews this month, but be on the lookout for more soon. I just got a physical book today that I am dying to read and share with you!