Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mini Reviews: The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison and The Other Elizabeth by Kathleen Bradford

From Goodreads: Penelope (Lo) Marin has always loved to collect beautiful things. Her dad's consulting job means she's grown up moving from one rundown city to the next, and she's learned to cope by collecting (sometimes even stealing) quirky trinkets and souvenirs in each new place - possessions that allow her to feel at least some semblance of home. But in the year since her brother Oren's death, Lo's hoarding has blossomed into a full-blown, potentially dangerous obsession. She discovers a beautiful, antique butterfly pendant during a routine scour at a weekend flea market, and recognizes it as having been stolen from the home of a recently murdered girl known only as "Sapphire" - a girl just a few years older than Lo. As usual when Lo begins to obsess over something, she can't get the murder out of her mind. As she attempts to piece together the mysterious "butterfly clues," with the unlikely help of a street artist named Flynt, Lo quickly finds herself caught up in a seedy, violent underworld much closer to home than she ever imagined - a world, she'll ultimately discover, that could hold the key to her brother's tragic death. 

My Rating: 3 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: As a murder mystery, I thought The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison was rather predictable and far-fetched. Lo stumbling upon clues that the police miss; Lo disguising herself to appear older so that she can try to get hired at Tens, a strip club, in order to talk to the other strippers about Sapphire; the connection between Bird and Oren … all of it was just hard to believe.

The Butterfly Clues does a much better job of capturing the thoughts and behaviours of someone with OCD. Lo’s disorder begins at a young age and has gotten much worse since Oren’s death – to the point where she’s now also a kleptomaniac and hoarder. This information is shown in such a natural way that you come to accept it as part of Lo’s personality. As a reader, you can see how severe Lo’s disorder is; yet through Lo’s eyes, it’s just who she is.    

The Butterfly Clues was released in February 2012 by Egmont USA. 

In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (EgmontUSA) for free via NetGalley.

From Back Cover: It was a lovely day in June. Elizabeth was enjoying a visit to Upper Canada Village with her Grade Seven class when a strange compulsion urged her toward Cook 's Tavern. Curious, she walked into the old building, and stepped into the past. A fire burns in the fireplace ... men in buckskins sit around the tables ... she is wearing a long dress of grey homespun ... "Why, it's young Elizabeth Frobisher," said one of the men. "But I'm not," Elizabeth wanted to say, "I'm not Elizabeth Frobisher! I'm Elizabeth Duncan!" 

My Rating: 2.5 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: With its attention to historical detail, The Other Elizabeth by Karleen Bradford takes you back to October 1813, just as the Canadians are about to engage in war against the Americans in the Battle of Crysler’s Farm. Although I love historical fiction, The Other Elizabeth seemed really dry because before Elizabeth goes home, there was very little action and just a lot of day-to-day stuff so you got an accurate feel for how the pioneers lived. As well, there was no explanation for why Elizabeth travels back into the past when she enters Cook’s Tavern or why she soon enough starts acting like Elizabeth Frobisher and forgets her life as Elizabeth Duncan. I normally love MG books, but The Other Elizabeth, sadly, wasn’t for me. 

The Other Elizabeth was released by Starburst Digital Rights International Inc. in September 2011.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher.
original image from


  1. Hmmm... sounds like I could pass on both, though I think a look into a disorder like OCD could be pretty fascinating.

  2. I'm with Missie I think. I love a good mystery, but I also need how it unfolds to be believable...or at least I need the author to make me believe in it even if it's paranormal in nature or just far fetched. Thanks for the mini reviews Zahida!

  3. Yeah, I think I'm with Missie and Jenny on these. The fun part of a mystery is trying to solve it along with the characters. There's nothing more infuriating with not believing in and caring for the plot, especially when it's predictable. Thanks for the heads up on these, Z!

  4. I don't think The Other Elizabeth is for me but I'm always on the lookout for (new to me) Canadian authors so will have to check out what other books Karleen Bradford has written.

  5. Oh no, two middling books in a row? I was looking forward to Butterfly Clues, but "farfetched" and "rather predictable" aren't good traits for a mystery. Oh well, it's good to have my expectations in check, so thanks for the honest review. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  6. I've been hearing about this being very predictable which is really a shame because that's the best part of a murder mystery is being shocked by the ending. Lovely review too bad it wasn't better.

  7. Aww, it's too bad that The Butterfly Clues didn't work for you as a mystery! But I'm glad that it handles dealing with OCD much better. :) That's one of the things that really intrigued me about that book -- it's sounds so completely different from everything else I've read! I feel like I can empathize with Lo already.

    Thanks so much for the awesome honest mini-reviews, Z! Honesty and mininess really go well together. :) <3


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