Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Review: Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2) by Paula Berinstein

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Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis (Amanda Lester, Detective #2)
by Paula Berinstein
Published September 15th 2015

If only Sherlock Holmes's great-great-grandson weren't such a dork . . .

There’s a new student at the Legatum Continuatum School for the Descendants of Famous Detectives and Amanda is supposed to work with him. Scapulus Holmes is a descendant of the great Sherlock and he’s crazy about her. Unfortunately she thinks he’s a dork and would rather die than have anything to do with him.

But when the kids discover a dead body encrusted with strange living crystals, Amanda realizes she needs Holmes’s help. If the crystals fall into the wrong hands they could be used for nefarious purposes, and only he knows how to protect them.

Can the detectives keep the bad guys from learning the crystals' secrets? It would help if they could figure out who the dead body is too. Only if Amanda and Holmes can find a way to work together can they prevent a disaster, and it isn’t looking good.

My Review:
I was pleased and surprised when the author of this books asked if I’d like to review more of the Amanda Lester series. So here’s my review for Book 2, Amanda Lester and the Orange Crystal Crisis.

The story picks up at the beginning of the second half of Amanda’s first year at Legatum Continuatum. Right off, she’s paired up with the new kid, Scapulus Holmes. Everyone loves him, but Amanda can’t stand him, making that unintentionally clear the very first time she sees him.

What I liked most about this story is that it’s fun to read. The orange crystals aren’t just some interesting thing; they are alive, and they aren’t necessarily harmless. The decorating gremlins also make the story a hoot. In the first book, they didn’t really have a face, but in this one, we see a lot of them as witnessed by the students, and they are pretty funny.

There’s also plenty of detective work, though I thought everything seemed rather close in delivery to Harry Potter, even with in-story references and comparisons to those books and a few of its characters. Instead of magic wands, there are evidence kits. Instead of magic items, there are mysterious, coded secrets, a special item upon which the fate of the school rests, and some technology that, although inspired by something real, seems almost magical in how it works in the story.

As for what I didn’t like. I’m not sure about Amphora in the story. She’s, what, twelve? Utterly boy crazy. And her crushes and such aren’t limited to the boys her age. She flirts like crazy, and while some girls are like that, it isn’t a good thing. Still, I liked hers and Simon’s relationship arc. He, at least, is her age.

As for Amanda’s relatives, well, I didn’t get them. They’re in your face, unlikeable, and I thought for a bit that they were part of some sort of conspiracy to lure Amanda into danger. Had they been, it would have made more sense, but nope, they’re just there being annoying and weird. This and a few other things gave me the impression that the plot and delivery weren’t quite as solid as in the first one, though the overall quality is good.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. Folks who enjoy tween-aged detective stories with some danger, a fair share of technology, and plenty of crushes and rivalry will likely enjoy this book.

I received the review copy of this book from the author.