Today, we welcome back Author Tara Ellis.
I featured author Tara Ellis on my website in October for her wonderful story of the courage and survival of Noah Messenger. Today, I’m featuring her Samantha Wolf Mystery Series. As a life-long fan of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, I couldn’t resist taking a trip back to the mysteries that electrified me during my pre-teen years.
Tara Ellis, an Amazon best-selling author, lives in a small, rural town in Washington State set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She enjoys the quiet lifestyle with her two grown kids and small dogs.
Tara was a firefighter/EMT, and worked in the medical field for many years, before committing herself to writing young adult and middle-grade novels (almost) full-time.
She grew up on sci-fi and has since found a love for conspiracy theories. This background, combined with a wild imagination, has led to The Forgotten Origins Trilogy. The first book in the series, Infected, was a finalist in the IAN 2015 Book of the Year Awards, was awarded Honorable Mention in the 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Awards, and voted as ‘Top 50 Indie Books of 2014’. (readfreely.com)
Her on-going middle-grade mystery series, The Samantha Wolf Mysteries, has hit the best-seller status on Amazon in the children’s detective story genre several times and continues to grow in popularity. The engaging, fun stories herald back to the days of Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon, and several readers have commented that the series is of the same caliber. These are clean reads that are suitable for the family to read together and are also part of the Kindle Unlimited program.
The Samantha Wolf Mysteries
The Mystery of Hollow Inn
5 stars! – Reviewed By Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite
The Mystery of Hollow Inn (Samantha Woods Mysteries, #1) is a children’s adventure by Tara Ellis. Samantha Wolf and her friend Ally visit her relatives at Hollow Inn, Montana. They learn that Joseph Hollow, who searches for treasure, haunts the Inn, and no one wants to stay there because strange incidents have occurred. Sam disbelieves the stories until a shadowy figure appears at her bedside one night.
She wants to help her aunt keep the inn by solving the mystery from clues found in an old journal. However, Sam and Ally realize that they are not the only ones looking for treasure when their boat capsizes, and Ted, an employee at Hollow Inn, acts suspiciously. The clues are not easy to decipher, but someone lurks nearby, waiting to be lead to the treasure.
The Mystery of Hollow Inn, the first in the Samantha Wolf Mysteries is a pleasant story for preteens. Tara Ellis has written a light-hearted mystery that held my attention with its catchy beginning of humor and intrigue. Sam is the daring, curious type while cautious Ally believes life cannot exist without cell phone service.
The author is inventive in her writing, and the sleuthing these good-natured girls do remind me of Nancy Drew, but with minor danger. The story has a realistic side as the lure of treasure would have anyone attempting to discover its whereabouts, and the author’s description of Hollow Inn made me want to go there. Preteens will enjoy the Samantha Wolf Mysteries by Tara Ellis.
The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines
5 stars! – Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite
Sam and Ally are best friends. They have a passion for a good mystery, or at least Sam does. And they seem quite good at managing to get themselves into predicaments whenever encountering a new mystery. After having just solved one mystery, the girls are excited to have another summer adventure, this time at Camp Whispering Pines.
From the moment they arrive, Sam and Ally seem to be singled out as difficult campers. Sam particularly is quickly framed and blamed for an infraction of the rules and ends up doing kitchen duty, then suffering a day in the isolation cabin with her friend Ally. Just when they think things couldn’t get any more strange, the girls stumble upon the source of the mystery and the reason they are being framed. Who can they trust? Are the new friends who share the cabin in on the plot to frame them and have them expelled from the camp? Or is there someone else lurking in the background? And how do they prove their innocence and that there are evil doings afoot?
The Secret of Camp Whispering Pines is the second book (and second mystery) in Tara Ellis’ Samantha Wolf mystery series. Although the book stands alone reasonably well, a little more backstory on the first mystery would help the reader who’s reading Book 2 without having read Book 1. There is lots of action, exciting dialogue, strong relationships between friends, and well executed sleuthing. Although there are times when the verb tenses change back and forth from past to present, sometimes confusing the reader, the story reads quite well. Overall, this is an exciting mystery for young readers.
The Beach House Mystery
Reader’s Favorite…Four stars!
The Beach House Mystery by Tara Ellis is Book 3 of an ongoing series, but it can be read on its own. This was a surprisingly good book, given that it is written in present tense and I usually don’t like novels written like that. The story follows two girls, Sam, and her friend Ally, who visit a beach where Sam’s father is restoring an old boat. What was supposed to be a good vacation on the sand and surf turns out to be a mystery that desperately needs to be solved.
There is a lot going on: there is a sea monster, a mystery of the founder of the town, the lighthouse has a mystery of its own, and there is a ghost that is still looking for her husband. Needless to say, the two girls need help and they get it from Sam’s brother Hunter and his friend John. Together, the foursome needs to solve these mysteries before something big happens. But with so many forces against them, can they do it?
Boy, this was a roller coaster ride that I loved. Sam and Ally are such cool kids. The story reminded me a lot of many R.L. Stine books that I used to read all the time. The dialogues are great and the story is very invigorating. I really loved the fact that the story was more about the mystery. It was focused and that made it more entertaining. The characters were strong and very well-developed. Tara Ellis is a really good writer, and she knows what she is doing, so that made the experience even better.
The Heiress of Covington Ranch
*****Five star Reader’s Favorite review: Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite
The Heiress of Covington Ranch, Book 4 is a children’s adventure from the Samantha Wolf Mysteries by Tara Ellis. Samantha “Sam” Wolf becomes curious when she notices an article that her teacher, Lisa Covington, has about The Eye of Orion. Her research reveals that a ruby owned by the teacher’s family has disappeared. Locating it will solve a problem Lisa has with her intimidating Uncle Peter.
Sam and her friend, Ally, assist with chores around the abandoned Covington Ranch while looking for clues to find the gem. The girls also try to help their penurious classmate, Cassy, with her ailing grandmother and stumble upon clues, which only makes the mystery more puzzling. Lurking in the shadow is Peter Covington, who is willing to do anything to keep The Eye of Orion for himself.
Twelve-year-old Samantha Wolf is a modern-day Nancy Drew who finds a mystery to solve anywhere she goes. The Heiress of Covington Ranch, Book 4 is a lovely adventure from the Samantha Wolf Mysteries that preteen girls will enjoy. It is the second book from the series I have read and I like Tara Ellis’ writing style. She develops her characters very well in the interesting, nature-loving themes she creates.
Sam does not look for trouble, but it somehow seems to appear wherever she goes. She is fearless, outspoken, and has a suspicious mind. Sam and Ally are inseparable friends, although they have different family lifestyles. Tara Ellis places emphasis on strong family values, making the story even more meaningful and entertaining.
I also read this book. I loved the courage of Cassy and her devotion to her grandmother. We can all learn a valuable lesson about the importance of family love in this book.
The Haunting of Eagle Creek Middle School
February 7, 2018 – 5 Star Review Peggy M McAloon
A Mysterious Christmas On Orcas Island
When Sam and Ally get a special Christmas invitation to Orcas Island, they have no idea that the small island has such big mysteries.
When their friend, Sandy, begs them to help her solve a troubling situation, they are drawn into a puzzle with layers of uncertainties. From secret meetings to legendary ghosts, they explore the picturesque setting in an attempt to make sense of it all.
But in the middle of their plight, a storm of the century bears down on them. Not only do they end up battling the raging storm, but also a criminal plot. Stranded and alone, can the girls come together to overcome their most harrowing adventure yet?
The Case of the Curious Canine
The next best thing to owning your own dog is having a job where you get to take care of them. That’s what Sam figures when she, Ally, and Cassy all volunteer at a local animal shelter. But they don’t expect the trouble that comes along with the work.
When dogs start showing up at the shelter with odd symptoms, the director doesn’t seem concerned. However, strange coincidences start to happen and Sam doesn’t believe that they’re random.
Confronted with the hard decision of following either her heart or her nose for a good mystery, Sam faces an emotional dilemma. Sometimes, the right path is the most difficult and this is one challenge that’s going to take all of her friends to help solve.
The Legend of Shadow Mountain – All by Tara Ellis
For those craving a good, old-fashioned mystery or a clean read for their child!
“An endearing series perfect for fans of Nancy Drew!”
Spring break starts with a surprise when Sam and her friends get an unexpected trip to the Alaskan wilderness. They’re always prepared for an adventure, but not a plane crash! Plunged into the unforgiving terrain, they must rely on their instincts and each other to reach the top of Shadow Mountain and the help they desperately need.
But standing between them and their destination is more than the terrain. Giant Kodiak bears protect the sacred land and her secrets, and a local legend shrouds the mountain in mystery. As a series of events unfold, Sam suspects that the answer to both the mystery and their salvation lies at the heart of Shadow Mountain.
3 thoughts on “Saturday’s Pick: Author Tara Ellis & her MG Mystery Series”
Thank you so much, Peggy, for featuring my middle grade series! I also grew up on Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Trixie Beldon. To have someone say that my stories instill the same feeling of escape and adventure is a major compliment!!!!
It took me back to Saturday mornings! Cartoons with hot chocolate and cinnamon toast for an hour, and then off to my reading nook in a little closet under the stairs. I’m now seventy-years-old, and found I enjoyed your books every bit as much as I did Nancy Drew as a kid! Thanks for the window back into childhood!!
I love this! Thank you!!!!