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Ratings and Book Reviews (2 2 star ratings
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    Relocating

    3.5 Stars I did enjoy this book, I did. However I am not really sure where it is going and it seems to be a bit of a mish mash of ideas and genres. It does deal with everything well and reads almost like you are a fly on the wall of the families concerned (the mysterious Hawthorne family and the far more regular Mitchell family). This does mean that there is a lot of the minutiae of life to wade through - actually this was no bad thing as it helps you submerge yourself in the fictional world that the author has created and it makes the characters feel very real. The down side to this is that I never really understood where the author was intending to take the tale and, indeed, nothing is ever really resolved and there is no natural segue in to a second book to explore the paranormal theme that is touted as the genre the book is lodged in. In actual fact, I found that the paranormal aspect was maybe a tenth of the tale and got lost amongst the themes of dealing with the death of a parent, moving to new town, being a new kid at school and just trying to get through being a teenager. The main thing that annoyed me was the Hawthorne family's speech. We get it, they are from Maine and have a specific accent. However, I found it entirely unnecessary to litter the text with "ah's" to show their speech patterns. In fact, each time I picked the book up it grated afresh to see "heah" or "fathah". A few pages in each reading session and I did find I could overlook it as I was enjoying the rather work-a-day storylines but it was a constant annoyance and I felt it was completely unnecessary and was a distraction from the story being told. I also had issues with the paranormal element of the story. Supposedly the Hawthornes are descended from Ancient Britons, specifically Druids, and worship an obscure Goddess (Modrun) who has imbued them with powers via artifacts gifted to their ancestors and subsequently passed down through innumerable generations. The whole clutching your amulet or wand and praying in pidgeon Latin to the Goddess to get what you want made me feel ever so slightly uncomfortable. I get that it is a fairly unique take on where Power comes from but I think I would have preferred it if they just had Power and used the artifacts to concentrate their mind to achieve their aims instead of some hokey pseudo-religious aspect to it all. The characters themselves are pretty good and do come alive on the page. You expect Gerallt, Gareth and Gwyneth to be fairly naive and almost other-worldly after being raised in almost total isolation at Deer Isle within a like-minded community. What you don't expect is for Matt Mitchell to be as naive as they are, for a 21st Century 15 year old he does seem particularly "young" with an outlook that felt more like a 10 year old than his purported age. We don't learn much about his fraternal twin Tina but she does seem to be more akin to a modern teenager. On the whole this is a gentle tale, told at a lilting pace that deceptively sucks you in to the lives of these two transplanted families. There is a lot to enjoy here and enjoy it I did; despite the issues raised above. THIS IS AN HONEST REVIEW OF A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK KINDLY SUPPLIED BY THE AUTHOR.
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    Entertaining

    The Secrets of Hawthorne House made for a bit of light entertainment and I thing younger teens would enjoy it. Some serious topics are addressed, and I think the author did a good job of giving some food for thought without getting too heavy. These young people are dealing with normal problems - loss, making friends in a new town, high school, bullies, gossip, etc. Of course, some of them have a leg up with a touch of Celtic magic, which was a nice touch to this one. The story feels a little scattered, almost like a continuing set of short stories with this group of teens working through various problems. I'm not really a fan of that style, but it did work for this book and these characters. The biggest drawback for me was really more a personal pet peeve than anything else. The Druids all speak with an accent and everything they say is spelled out phonetically. That would've been okay for a few lines to give the idea of how they sound, but it's all the way through. As I said, that's something that irritates me but may not bother others at all. I do think that would work very well for an audio version to let the accent be heard. In the end, there were things I liked and things I didn't, but the story was entertaining and it was certainly worth the read.
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