Official Review: The Secret of Trail House Lodge

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Official Review: The Secret of Trail House Lodge

Post by kandscreeley »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Secret of Trail House Lodge" by Madge H. Gressley.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The Secret of Trail House Lodge is the second book in a mystery series starring Sophie Collins. Sophie, a fourteen year old girl, has only recently become heiress to the Morsey Estate. She, as most young adults her age, is still trying to find her way. Grayson, her caretaker, wishes she would act more dignified and ladylike, but Sophie is a tomboy at heart and not ready to grow up quite yet. Sophie and her friends Beth Martin, Tommy Logan, and Tyler Blakemore love exploring together and finding mysteries.

In this second book in the series, Tommy and his cousin Matt stumble upon an abandoned old house up in the woods. The four friends decide that this would be a great place to explore as they might find some ghosts or at least a mystery or two. While hunting they find out that this building used to be a hotel which was shut down after a lawyer named Stanley Higgins disappeared. During their search they find secret passageways and hidden rooms, one of which even contains a mummified corpse. Will the four young detectives be able to uncover the mystery that is Trail House Lodge?

When I picked this book to review, I was leery as the description stated this was book two in the series. I wasn’t sure if it would stand alone or if I would get lost while reading. My fears were unfounded, however, as the author does a great job clueing us in. There were only a few missing pieces that overall do not affect the readability of this book on its own. Most notably we do not learn exactly who Mr. Johnson is in relation to Sophie until the middle of the book, and I feel certain the first book would clarify this.

The mark of a great book in a series is if the book makes you hungry to read the rest, and I’m happy to say this is a great book. It captured my attention pushing me to finish to the very end. Good, clean mysteries like this one are hard to find at the young adult level. This reminds me of the Nancy Drew Series or the Hardy Boys Series, which used to be very popular. This book is a breath of fresh air in a market saturated with science fiction and thrillers. In my opinion, we need more books out there along these lines.
While I appreciate the genre, I’m not sure the author could decide what age level to write this book for. I would agree that it’s a young adult book, and yet the reading level is a little too simple to be suited for older teenagers. Along those lines, one particular character likes to swear, and because of this, it would not be suitable for pre-teens to early teenagers.

Unfortunately, the editing in this book also leaves much to be desired. I spotted missed words, commas in the wrong places, and two different tenses in the same sentence. Here is an example of a comma hanging out in the middle of a sentence: “(She) noticed nothing different except the suitcase, Tyler had gone through yesterday was now sitting on the floor.” These mistakes happen too often to ignore and even interfere with the reading of the story.

Another point worth mentioning was the use of vernacular by the author, Madge Gressley. It appears she’s trying to use a southern accent for the characters, but I found the dialogue to be stilted and hard to read because of this. The characters seem to enjoy the use of the non-word ‘n. Sophie at one point says, “’N yes. I have my cell.” This is only one instance of many throughout the book to which I had a hard time adjusting; however this is more of a preference, so I did not count this against the author.

Overall, I rate this book a 3 out of 4. The plot was extremely enjoyable, and I loved how easy it was not only to read but to really get into the story. I cannot give it a perfect rating, however, because of the many mistakes as well as the confusion as to reading level. I would recommend the book as it is exciting and easy to read, but it might warrant screening by the parents for the younger readers.

******
The Secret of Trail House Lodge
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Post by Wasif Ahmed »

A really great review. Horror just isn't my cup of tea so I won't be giving this book a try. ?
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Post by LivreAmour217 »

Very nice review! I used to love mystery stories like this one when I was a child, and I do hope that they make a comeback. It's a shame about the editing of the book, though. If the writing quality was better, I'd definitely read this!
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Post by kandscreeley »

Wasif - it's not really horror. More of a mystery.

-- 11 Feb 2017, 09:35 --
LivreAmour217 wrote:Very nice review! I used to love mystery stories like this one when I was a child, and I do hope that they make a comeback. It's a shame about the editing of the book, though. If the writing quality was better, I'd definitely read this!
I hope the author does some editing. It really is worth a read. Thanks for the comment.
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Post by Wasif Ahmed »

kandscreeley wrote:Wasif - it's not really horror. More of a mystery.

-- 11 Feb 2017, 09:35 --
LivreAmour217 wrote:Very nice review! I used to love mystery stories like this one when I was a child, and I do hope that they make a comeback. It's a shame about the editing of the book, though. If the writing quality was better, I'd definitely read this!
I hope the author does some editing. It really is worth a read. Thanks for the comment.
Oh great. I have always fancied The Hardy Boys and have read over 100 books in that series. They are basically the series that got me into reading. As for this book, its going into my To Read shelf.
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Post by Amheiser »

Thank you for the very insightful review. I love reading a good mystery and the fact that it is a story for youths doesn't deter me, especially since it sticks to the basics. Sometimes I prefer reading a book for youths that isn't as involved and intense as a story for adults, but still has a good story. Call me old-fashioned, but I also prefer just good stories that don't need foul language and horror in them to try to interest an audience. I'm glad to hear that the story is very readable even with some mistakes because it sounds like a very interesting story.
Thanks to the author, Madge Gressley, for having the courage to write a book a book for youths that just sticks to the story and doesn't try to make it "hip." It sounds like this author is a very good writer and should find someone to edit the stories more carefully for future books.
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Post by kandscreeley »

Amheiser wrote:Thank you for the very insightful review. I love reading a good mystery and the fact that it is a story for youths doesn't deter me, especially since it sticks to the basics. Sometimes I prefer reading a book for youths that isn't as involved and intense as a story for adults, but still has a good story. Call me old-fashioned, but I also prefer just good stories that don't need foul language and horror in them to try to interest an audience. I'm glad to hear that the story is very readable even with some mistakes because it sounds like a very interesting story.
Thanks to the author, Madge Gressley, for having the courage to write a book a book for youths that just sticks to the story and doesn't try to make it "hip." It sounds like this author is a very good writer and should find someone to edit the stories more carefully for future books.
Absolutely! It was a joy to read this book. Even as an adult. A more careful editor would be good, but it's still worth reading.
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Post by Rachaelamb1 »

I devoured Nancy Drew books when I was a kid! Will have to check this one out! Though I seriously hope the author fixes the grammatical errors!

-- 11 Feb 2017, 20:06 --

I devoured Nancy Drew books when I was a kid! Will have to check this one out! Though I seriously hope the author fixes the grammatical errors!
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Post by kandscreeley »

Please do!
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Post by gali »

Sounds good! I like Good, clean mysteries, but I prefer well-edited ones.
Great job on the review!
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Post by kandscreeley »

Thanks gali. It was definitely distracting.
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Post by MrsCatInTheHat »

I have a niece that loves mysteries but they need to be clean. This sounds like it would be perfect for her. I may go ahead and get this one plus the first in the series for her next birthday. It's so hard to choose when you don't have recommendations so I'm glad that I came across your review.
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Post by kandscreeley »

CatInTheHat wrote:I have a niece that loves mysteries but they need to be clean. This sounds like it would be perfect for her. I may go ahead and get this one plus the first in the series for her next birthday. It's so hard to choose when you don't have recommendations so I'm glad that I came across your review.
It's so hard to know what to get for kids these days. You almost have to screen every book yourself.
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Post by greenstripedgiraffe »

You are right - there is a huge dearth of interesting clean books for the young adult! Hopefully this author will continue to write and improve. The swearing could be done without, IMO, but even at that, it sounds more decent than most books currently written for that age group.
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Post by kandscreeley »

greenstripedgiraffe wrote:You are right - there is a huge dearth of interesting clean books for the young adult! Hopefully this author will continue to write and improve. The swearing could be done without, IMO, but even at that, it sounds more decent than most books currently written for that age group.
Even as an adult, I enjoyed reading. However, having said that, it really is geared more towards the 10 to 14 age level but then the author adds the swearing. Even with that, though, you are right, it's a pretty clean book. Thanks!
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