Friday, 29 August 2014

Cheongsam Fashion Mysteries by Carly Carter.

Cheongsam Fashion Mystery by Carly Carter:
Hey guys!
About a week or two ago I was sent an email from an author asking if I would like to review her books, naturally I said yes and she sent them all to me through Amazon onto my Kindle Fire.

(Sorry for the lateness of this review, I’ve been on holiday; it was great apart from you would have to pay for the Wi-Fi to use it… it was pretty annoying)

For this review, I’ve decided to include all three books. These books are the Cheongsam Fashion Mystery books by Carly Carter.

I believe they are fairly recent books, being published by the author herself this year.
The author also mentioned to me that I could read them in any order.

Never the less, I took it upon myself to read them and review them quickly as no one likes being kept waiting.
So here we go! :)

Book 1.
Two Egg Rolls and a Side of Murder:
This book was a rather pleasant read, I honestly didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did.
The genre of the book did put me off a little bit when I first started reading it as it’s a mystery book that revolves around fashion and femininity. (Not to say I have anything wrong with that, just it’s not my personal preference in books)

I did not allow that to stop me from reading it though!
I powered through and I’m so glad I did, the book started getting funnier and more progressive from the second chapter.
(Especially when Joy-Li refers to women who dresses in all black as ‘Mrs Darth Vader’s’… yeah, it did make me chuckle a’lil)

The plot itself was quite understandable:
Someone dies, there is at least five or six suspects and the main character has to find out who done it and why.
Even so, the plot thickens and creates the right amount of tension to keep a reader gripped and wanting more.

I do have to admit though, at some points I feel as if the writer purposely made some bits really obvious as I would read a paragraph, make an assumption or guess and then on the next page that assumption/guess would become 90% accurate. (There were some slight differences in which I imagined the situation)
I also did get lost a couple times as to where the characters were and what the time-frame was, as it would sometimes jump from (lets say for example) a Tuesday night all the way to a Wednesday afternoon, with no filler in-between or anything like that. On some bits it did work brilliantly, but on other bits it just felt quite ‘jumpy’.

I would write about the characters, but there was mainly one character that was focused upon for practically the entirety of the book.

This character is Joy-Li Judson.
Joy-Li is a blogger, personal shopping assistant, vintage shopper and crime solver. She also knits scarfs.
She is, in my opinion, a nosey person; but she is also rather intelligent in how she digs into people. Joy-Li isn’t part of the Harpeth Hollow police department, but she likes to be entangled and involved when there is a murder or mystery that has appeared.
She cannot say no or stop herself.

There are a few other ‘main characters’ in this book, these people being Joy-Li’s boyfriend Kyle, Joy-Li’s best friends Wendy, Stephanie and Madison, some outside people such as Clare Wang, Shang Liu, Dr Wang and a few other side characters.
Joy-Li’s family and her Chinese heritage is also a key feature in this book as most of the food they eat is authentic Chinese and most of the book is solely focused around a Chinese restaurant.

Overall I did enjoy this book, the plot was good enough and the twists were good! The characters could have had a bit more depth or work done to them though, also, there was a few spelling/grammar issues throughout the book, they weren’t major issues, just sometimes there would be a ‘to’ instead of a ‘the’, I didn’t get totally distracted by them but they did catch my eye.
The book did repeat itself aswell a little, I’d find myself learning the same thing about ‘glow-in-the-dark chemicals from Nasa’ at the start, middle and end of the book, and how authentic Chinese food is better and healthier (which I believe and have no objection against but having to read it practically every page is a tad bit tiring)

Book 2.
The Mysterious Rice Bowl:
To begin with, ‘The Mysterious Rice Bowl’ was much better than ‘Two Egg Rolls and a Side of Murder’!
Also knowing what the genre and aim of the book was, I was more intent on reading it and I enjoyed it a whole lot more!

I really enjoyed this plot a lot more as seems to be in a more psychological/thriller style of writing compared to ‘Two Egg Rolls’, which was just plain crime; it made it more excitable to read.
Plus the plot focused solely on a few people, compared to the last book (Two Egg Rolls), which kept jumping from person to person on different time scales or days.

The plot itself became quite transparent near the end, I’d say around chapter 10 I had figured out what was happening and who was in the cottage, normally a book like that would bore me, but this book kept me intrigued and wanting more!

The characters the book mainly focused on was:
Joy-Li Judson (of course!), Stephanie Tice, Kyle, Mary Beth and Scott.

As opposed to ‘Two Egg Rolls’ Joy-Li doesn’t do any kind of investigating work, which is odd as she describes herself as Harpeth Hollows private detective, she isn’t obsessed by murder, she just enjoys solving the cases.

This time she is more on the side-lines, helping out at the woman’s shelter, helping her emotionally broken friend and being scared by ‘Paranormal’ activity.
Through this she shows off a more sincere and affectionate side, caring for her friend by taking her to her grandmothers house and trying to pull her friend out of her downward spiral of emotional pain.
Though she does want to investigate and try to connect dots when Stephanie’s long lost sister is found at the woman’s shelter.

Stephanie, I believe, is possibly the main character.
The only reason I say that is because everything that is happening, is happening in her cottage and revolves around her life.
I know that Joy-Li has the most talking lines or thoughts within the book, but the main story happens to be centred around Stephanie or at Stephanie’s cottage.

The other characters (Kyle, Ed, Mary Beth and Scott) are more fill-in characters that are spread out around random chapters.
As the story slightly revolves around the woman’s shelter, the owners (Mary Beth and Scott) are here and there when Joy-Li or any of the others are visiting.
Kyle is Joy-Li’s boyfriend and is mostly around when Joy-Li is at the woman’s shelter or over at his flat.
Ed works with Joy-Li at Franklin’s department store as a personal shopper, he is in it most of the time, though he mostly talks about working and asking how Stephanie is.

All in all, this book was really awesome!
I loved it from start to finish and I’m so glad the author has given me a chance to read them!
My favourite bit in this book was when Grandfather Cai and Granny Chai are discussing how long they’ve been married; how they have the same sense of humour is pretty awesome aswell… I find the two of them really sweet :)

There is only downside that I have with this book and it isn’t a large issue don’t worry!
It’s that there are spelling and grammar mistakes in certain points of the book, it doesn’t bother me massively but when you see a ‘your’ that’s supposed to be a ‘you’re’ it kind of tickles your want to change it.
Other than that the book was awesome! :)

Book 3.
Death by Chopsticks:
Having only just read the last two Cheongsam Fashion Mystery books, I already had a slight notion about what this one was going to be about.

Fashion and Murder!

(I also had a huge urge to read it… I really do like these books)

The plot is well thought out and good, it does remind me slightly of ‘Two Egg Rolls and a Side of Murder’ but I guess they’re both crime books and they will be slightly similar.

The thing I loved most about this plot is the twists and turns that will keep any reader intrigued and on a ‘want-to-know-more’ edge.
Another thing with this book is that the twists and turns actually throw you off the trail, I thought I had figured it out and figured out who the killer was…
I was only, probably, 40-50% correct.

The characters were quite simple and basically developed.
Our main character is the ever so vintage Joy-Li Judson.

Joy-Li is a personal shopping assistant, a blogger, a vintage shopper and amateur crime investigator.
Using her ‘Feminine Charm’ and intelligence, she is able to dig into her own mini investigations about murders which happen in Harpeth Hollow.
I do really like her character though; she’s witty, thoughtful, caring and curious and is very persistent and very stubborn towards her decisions and her friend’s decisions.

There are a few other characters that have a slight main character appeal; these people would be Rupert Cranemoore, Chef Robert, Rowan and Alexandra Hill.

These people are shown slightly throughout the book, as they are all connected with the plot their personalities are hushed upon until the end of the book.

Overall, I did enjoy this book, not as much as ‘The Mysterious Rice Bowl’ though.

Again, another downside to this book would be the spelling and the grammar. It’s practically the same as the last two books; some words are missing letters or have letters added onto them, others aren’t in the correct grammar and some are just completely un-appropriate and not needed.

Thank you for reading this review, I hope you enjoyed it!
Thank you to Carly Carter for sending me these books!
I really, really enjoyed them!

Heres a link to Carly's Amazon page if you wish to purchase these books:

Joe! :D


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