Review: No Ordinary Boy: Dragons, Magic, and King Arthur

Title: No Ordinary Boy: Dragons, Magic, and King Arthur
Author: Tracey Mayhew
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

All Merlin knows is the village where he mixes potions for wary customers, and dreams strange dreams that sometimes come true. Then a mysterious hooded man appears, seeking a boy with no mortal father, and Merlin is taken far away, to a crumbling tower and a ruthless king. To a place where his is not the only magic. 

About The Tales from the Round Table series: This engaging collection introduces the legend of Merlin, King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table to a new generation of readers aged 7+.

Review:

Merlin is a boy who lives by himself in a small village. He is known as a healer with special powers. One day, a group of knights arrive in the village, looking for a mortal boy who did not have a mortal father. Merlin fits that description. He is brought to the king to save his crumbling castle.

I have read three different adaptations of the King Arthur and Merlin story this year. Each one has been for a different audience and told the story in a different way.

This story is perfect for early middle grade readers. It was fast paced, but short. There is so much material for the story of Merlin, so I wished the story was a little longer. There were exciting scenes, which included magic and dragons, that will keep young readers entertained. It’s a great introduction to the story of Merlin.

Thank you Sweet Cherry Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Dark Sorceress by Tracey Mayhew

Twelve Rebel Kings by Tracey Mayhew

Have you read No Ordinary Boy? What did you think of it?

Review: A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2)

Title: A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2)
Author: Soman Chainani
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

After saving themselves and their fellow students from a life pitched against one another, Sophie and Agatha are back home again, living happily ever after. But life isn’t exactly a fairytale. When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending with Prince Tedros, the gates to the School for Good and Evil open once again. But Good and Evil are no longer enemies and Princes and Princesses may not be what they seem, as new bonds form and old ones shatter.

Review:

Agatha and Sophie finished their fairy tale and returned to their home of Gavaldon from The School for Good and Evil. One day, Agatha wishes that she had kissed her prince, Tedros, at the end of their fairy tale. That wish causes their happily ever after at the end of their fairy tale to be erased, sending them back to The School for Good and Evil to find their ending. However, this time the school has changed. Since they didn’t end their fairy tale with a prince kissing a princess, the people at the school have realized that fairy tales don’t need princes to be complete. The school now separates the girls and the boys. The return of Agatha and Sophie makes everything spin out of control, leading to an epic battle between the girls and boys.

This story looked at the gendered stereotypes in fairy tales. In a typical fairy tale, the prince and princess end up together at the end. In Sophie and Agatha’s fairy tale, neither of them needed a prince, because they ended up together. This would be fine, but it shows that the boys aren’t needed. That left all the princes wondering what they were supposed to do. I loved that this flipped the gender stereotype and explored a new type of fairy tale.

This story also explored appearances. Appearances play an important part in fairy tales too. The characters in fairy tales assume that an outward appearance is true, though it often isn’t. A woman may trust an old lady, who turns out to be a witch who poisons her. A girl may trust the woman she thinks is her grandmother, who turns out to be a wolf. Some of the characters in this story appeared to be one gender, but they were another gender. The characters blindly trusted each other’s appearances, even though it really didn’t make sense. This was a clever way to play with the gender stereotypes by changing appearances.

I loved this story even more than the first one! It finished on a cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to read the next one.

What to read next:

The Last Ever After (The School for Good and Evil #3) by Soman Chainani

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer

Other books in the series:

Have you read A World Without Princes? What did you think of it?

Review: Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It

Title: Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It
Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From bestselling and award-winning husband and wife team Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that delivers a front-row seat to the dramatic events that led to African Americans earning the right to vote.

“Right here, I’m sharing the honest-to-goodness.” -Loretta

“I’m gon’ reach back, and tell how it all went. I’m gon’ speak on it. My way.” -Roly

“I got more nerve than a bad tooth. But there’s nothing bad about being bold.” -Aggie B.

Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, each present the vivid story of their young lives, spanning three generations. Their separate stories – beginning in a cotton field in 1927 and ending at the presidential election of 1968 — come together to create one unforgettable journey. 

Through an evocative mix of fictional first-person narratives, spoken-word poems, folk myths, gospel rhythms and blues influences, Loretta Little Looks Back weaves an immersive tapestry that illuminates the dignity of sharecroppers in the rural South. Inspired by storytelling’s oral tradition, stirring vignettes are presented in a series of theatrical monologues that paint a gripping, multidimensional portrait of America’s struggle for civil rights as seen through the eyes of the children who lived it. The novel’s unique format invites us to walk in their shoes. Each encounters an unexpected mystical gift, passed down from one family member to the next, that ignites their experience what it means to reach for freedom.

Review:

Loretta, Roly, and Aggie were three generations of a Black family who lived in the American south in the early 20th century. They each had different perspectives on their lives, which they tell in their monologues in each part of this book. Loretta lived with her father and two sisters, on a farm where they picked cotton. They weren’t officially slaves, but they were often treated as if they were. One day, Loretta and her sisters found a baby in a field, who became their brother Roly. During Roly’s childhood, they were able to buy their own piece of land. When Roly got older, he married and had a daughter named Aggie. His wife left when Aggie was a newborn, leaving Aggie in the care of Roly and Loretta. Aggie grew up in the 1960s, so she had a completely different perspective on the world than her older relatives.

Most of the stories that I’ve read about slaves or their ancestors have been for adults, so I loved that this one was for children. There were some tough scenes, such as when Loretta’s father was insulted by his boss or when their farm was attacked just because they were Black. These are important parts of history that need to be taught to everyone.

Even though these three storytellers were from the same family, they had different perspectives on the world. Loretta had seen her father suffer, and she had suffered herself while picking cotton. Roly was just a few years younger than her but he had a different upbringing. He had a more comfortable life, looking after the animals on their farm, and he wasn’t interested in moving higher in the world. Loretta was inspired by the civil rights movement of the 60s and wanted to make a change in the world. Though they were from the same family and lived in the same place, the time period that they were living in changed the way they viewed the world.

This is a beautiful and important children’s book.

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Wunderkind PR for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney (illustrator)

Have you read Loretta Little Looks Back: Three Voices Go Tell It? What did you think of it?

Review: Clean Getaway

Title: Clean Getaway
Author: Nic Stone
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes a middle grade road-trip story through American race relations past and present perfect for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds.

How to Go on an Unplanned Road Trip with Your Grandma:
* Grab a Suitcase: Prepacked from the big spring break trip that got CANCELLED.
* Fasten Your Seatbelt: G’ma’s never conventional, so this trip won’t be either.
* Use the Green Book: G’ma’s most treasured possession. It holds, history, memories, and most important, the way home.

What Not to Bring:
* A Cell Phone: Avoid contact with Dad at all costs. Even when G’ma starts acting stranger than usual.

Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with New York Times bestselling Nic Stone and an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover the world hasn’t always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren’t always what they seem–his G’ma included.

Review:

After getting suspended from school, Scoob’s Spring Break trip was cancelled. His grandmother, G’ma, sold her house and bought an RV to go on a special trip. Scoob sneaks out of his dad’s house and travels across multiple states with his G’ma in her new RV. Soon after they leave, she starts acting strange. She refers to Scoob by his father’s name many times. She also insists on stopping at various jewelry stores on their way. Scoob isn’t sure what their destination is, but he starts to question why G’ma has taken him on this trip.

This was such an original story. It’s a middle grade story, but it actually got quite dark at times. Perhaps that’s because I was reading it as an adult, so I picked up on the warning signs of what G’ma was doing quite early on. There were serious events in this book that were heavier than many middle grade books I’ve read.

Scoob was a black boy traveling with his white grandmother. They often got strange looks, since they weren’t the same race and didn’t appear to be related at first sight. G’ma was familiar with this reaction, because she married a black man in the 1960s. They weren’t allowed to go into certain businesses as a mixed race couple. She was even concerned about finding a doctor when she was pregnant, because she didn’t think a doctor would want to look after a white woman who was carrying a mixed race baby. This seems absurd to me, reading it from the twentieth century. It’s disturbing that this would have happened just a few decades ago. Though G’ma was white, she had a unique perspective of being in a relationship with a black man and experiencing racism because of that.

This was an original middle grade novel!

What to read next:

Blended by Sharon M. Draper

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Have you read Clean Getaway? What did you think of it?

Review: The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1)

Title: The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1)
Author: Soman Chainani
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Review:

Two hundred years ago, a tradition began with two children being taken from the town of Gavaldon and brought to The School for Good and Evil. At The School for Good and Evil, children are sent to either the Good side to train to become the heroes of fairy tales, or the Evil side where they become fairy tale villains. Sophie is a beautiful girl who dreams of being sent to The School of Good. Her friend, Agatha, lives in a graveyard and seems like she is destined to go to The School of Evil. When Sophie and Agatha are chosen to go to The School, Sophie is sent to the Evil side and Agatha is sent to the Good side. They have to figure out how to switch to their correct schools.

This is a great twist on the fairy tale story. The students at The School for Good and Evil are trained to become fairy tale characters. Most of the students are descendants of fairy tale characters, like Tedros, the son of King Arthur. Sophie and Agatha stand out because they aren’t from fairy tale families and they can’t predict what their tale will become.

This story explored the meaning of good versus evil. Good is usually portrayed as beautiful and kind, while evil is usually ugly and gross. Since Sophie is beautiful she assumed she would go into the Good side, but she was sent to the Evil side to become a fairy tale villain. Agatha isn’t as pretty and wears black, so she is surprised when she’s sent to become a fairy tale hero. Throughout the story, they discover that good versus evil, or hero versus villain, can’t be determined by outward appearances.

I really enjoyed this story. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

What to read next:

A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2) by Soman Chainani

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer

Other books in the series:

  • A World Without Princes
  • The Last Ever After
  • Quests for Glory
  • A Crystal of Time
  • One True King

Have you read The School for Good and Evil? What did you think of it?

Review: The Lost Wonderland Diaries

Title: The Lost Wonderland Diaries
Author: J. Scott Savage
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Something monstrous wants to exit Wonderland and enter the real world.

Lewis Carroll, author of the classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, secretly recorded the true story of his actual travels to Wonderland in four journals which have been lost to the world . . . until now.

Celia and Tyrus discover the legendary Lost Diaries of Wonderland and fall into a portal that pulls them into the same fantasy world as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. However, Wonderland has vastly changed. Some of the characters that Tyrus remembers from the book have been transformed into angry monsters. 

Helped by the Cheshire Cat and a new character, Sylvan, a young rabbit, Celia and Tyrus desperately work to solve puzzles and riddles, looking for a way out of Wonderland. But the danger increases when the Queen of Hearts begins hunting them, believing the two young visitors hold the key to opening multiple portals to multiple worlds, and she will stop at nothing to capture them.

Will the crazed creatures of Wonderland escape into the real world? Can Celia and Tyrus stop them and save both worlds? Or will they be trapped in Wonderland forever?

Review:

Celia is the great-great-great-grandniece of Lewis Carroll. Her mom is a librarian, and they move across the country so her mom can start a new job. Celia has to spend her summer days at her mom’s library, where she meets Tyrus, another new student to the area. After they meet, they find a box in Celia’s mom’s office. They use Tyrus’s imagination and Celia’s logic to open the secret box, which holds Lewis Carroll’s lost diaries. These diaries hold the secrets to opening a portal into Wonderland, which is in dire need of help to get rid of the monsters that have taken over. Celia and Tyrus have to use their unique skills to help save Wonderland.

Celia and Tyrus were both bullied at their previous schools for being different. Celia is dyslexic, and has always felt left out because she can’t learn like her other classmates. Tyrus buries himself in his books, which his classmates never understood. They were both bullied, but through their adventure in Wonderland, they learn that their differences are what make them strong and unique.

I loved the puzzles in this book. The word puzzles were written in the style of Lewis Carroll’s writing, yet they were original. I wasn’t a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, but I loved this story. The puzzles had the same quirky style of Carroll, but without the strange and confusing parts.

One thing that I didn’t like about this story was that it switched between narrative perspectives. The chapters where Celia and Tyrus were in the real world had a first-person narrative from Celia’s perspective. The chapters in Wonderland, which took up most of the book, were narrated by a third-person narrator. There were only one or two chapters that didn’t include Celia, so they could have been changed to be either all first-person or all third-person. I read an advanced copy of this book and this narration style could have been changed in the final copy, so I didn’t hold it against the book in my rating.

This was a fun story! I hope there will be a sequel.

Thank you Shadow Mountain for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Have you read The Lost Wonderland Diaries? What did you think of it?

Review: Last Pick: Rise Up (Last Pick #3)

Title: Last Pick: Rise Up (Last Pick #3)
Author: Jason Walz
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Publisher: First Second
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Earth’s last hope are also the last picked, in this thrilling conclusion of Jason Walz’s dystopian graphic trilogy.

Wyatt is now the reluctant leader of the “last picked”—the disabled, the elderly, and those deemed too young to be useful for hard labor by their alien captors. But how can he and his ragtag allies take down an entire alien federation?

Meanwhile, Wyatt’s twin sister Sam and her girlfriend Mia are creating chaos all over the galaxy in an attempt to rescue Sam’s parents. But even if the family is reunited, can they stay alive long enough to see the end of the alien regime?

Review:

A few years ago, aliens arrived on Earth and took every able-bodied person between the ages of 16 and 65. In the previous book, Wyatt’s twin sister Sam was taken after they turned 16. Wyatt, who is on the autism spectrum, teamed up with the disabled, the elderly, and the young people who were left behind in order to go and rescue their loved ones who were taken from Earth. Meanwhile, there is a virus that is infecting the aliens and making them sick. Wyatt has to travel to another planet to rescue his sister and his parents.

This is a great conclusion to this series. Disability is an important theme to this series. People with disabilities were left behind on Earth, rather than being taken by the aliens to do work for them. The aliens misjudged the people with disabilities, as well as the young and older people, to be weaker than everyone else. Instead, these people used their unique skills to rise up and fight against the aliens.

The graphics were a little confusing during the fight scenes in this story. It may have just been in my advanced copy, but there were a lot of the same colours, such as greens and pinks, which made it difficult to differentiate between aliens and their spaceships. This slowed down my reading and made it a little confusing at times.

I highly recommend this middle grade graphic novel series.

Thank you First Second for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

Other books in the series:

Have you read Last Pick: Rise Up? What did you think of it?

Review: Ghost Squad

Title: Ghost Squad
Author: Claribel A. Ortega
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late. With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.

Review:

Lucley Luna lives with her large family, including cousins, aunts, her grandmother, and her father. However, her father and her are the only living people in the house. The rest of her family are ghosts. One night before Halloween, Lucley and her best friend Syd cast a spell that wakes dangerous spirits in her town. Then, her ghostly relatives begin to fade. Lucley and Syd, along with Syd’s witch grandmother Babette, have to fight these ghosts to save their town.

There was a lot of Lucley’s Dominican heritage in this story. The family would sit down to big meals, even though most of them were ghosts. The food described made me so hungry! There were some words that I had to look up the translation for, such as her aunt’s “chancla” (slipper) that she threatened to throw at anyone. It made these characters memorable and I learned some new words along the way.

The spooky setting mixed with Lucley’s Dominican culture when they came across the historical witches group Las Brujas Moradas. There was a full history of the town developed in this fairly short story. Lucley and Syd were also well developed characters. They were strong girls, but they would admit when they were afraid.

This was a fun, spooky adventure story. I wish this book was around when I was a kid. It’s a great middle grade story, perfect for Halloween!

What to read next:

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

Have you read Ghost Squad? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Premeditated Myrtle and How to Get Away with Myrtle

Title: Premeditated Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries #1)
Author: Elizabeth C. Bunce
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle has a passion for justice and a Highly Unconventional obsession with criminal science. Armed with her father’s law books and her mum’s microscope, Myrtle studies toxicology, keeps abreast of the latest developments in crime scene analysis, and Observes her neighbors in the quiet village of Swinburne, England.

When her next-door neighbor, a wealthy spinster and eccentric breeder of rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and find the killer, even if nobody else believes her — not even her father, the town prosecutor.

Review:

In 1893, Myrtle Hardcastle is a twelve-year-old girl who loves to study crimes. Her father is a prosecutor and her mother studied medicine. One evening, she notices some strange activity at her neighbour’s house. She calls the police and they find that her elderly neighbour has died. They think it was natural causes but there are too many clues that suggest to Myrtle that this was murder. With the help of her governess, Miss Judson, Myrtle investigates the murder of her neighbour.

Myrtle is a clever young girl. She reminds me of Nancy Drew and Flavia de Luce. Her family life was also similar to those classic detectives, since she lived with her father and her mother died when she was a child.

This was a great mystery. It could be read by middle grade children or adults. It had some mature themes, with murder and poisoning, though nothing too graphic. One part that was disappointing was that one of the major clues was glossed over at the end. A character’s past wasn’t fully explained. I even went back to reread that section but I don’t think there was a clear answer to that clue.

This is a great start to a new mystery series!

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: How to Get Away with Myrtle (Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries #2)
Author: Elizabeth C. Bunce
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Before the train has left the station, England’s most accomplished new detective already is on a suspect’s trail, and readers will be delighted to travel along. 

Myrtle Hardcastle has no desire to go on a relaxing travel excursion with her aunt Helena when there are More Important things to be done at home, like keeping close tabs on criminals and murder trials. Unfortunately, she has no say in the matter. So off Myrtle goes—with her governess, Miss Judson, and cat, Peony, in tow—on a fabulous private railway coach headed for the English seaside. 

Myrtle is thrilled to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Bloom, a professional insurance investigator aboard to protect the priceless Northern Lights tiara. But before the train reaches its destination, both the tiara and Mrs. Bloom vanish. When Myrtle arrives, she and Peony discover a dead body in the baggage car. Someone has been murdered—with Aunt Helena’s sewing shears.

The trip is derailed, the local police are inept, and Scotland Yard is in no rush to arrive. What’s a smart, bored Young Lady of Quality stranded in a washed-up carnival town to do but follow the evidence to find out which of her fellow travelers is a thief and a murderer?

Review:

Myrtle Hardcastle, her Aunt Helena, and her governess Miss Judson have been sent on a vacation in a seaside town. As soon as they board the train, Myrtle can sense a mystery coming. A priceless tiara is on display on the train, with an insurance investigator on board to protect it. However, the tiara is stolen during a power outage on the first night. Myrtle and the insurance investigator, Mrs. Bloom, search the train for clues. The next day, Mrs. Bloom can’t be found. Her body is eventually found in the luggage car when they arrive at their destination. The murder weapon points to Myrtle’s Aunt Helena. Myrtle doesn’t trust anyone else to investigate the connection between the robbery and Mrs. Bloom’s murder, so she takes the investigation into her own hands.

I enjoyed this story more than the first Myrtle Hardcastle mystery. The first one was a good introduction to the characters. This one had a clear, straight forward mystery to solve.

I loved the classic setting of a train. It is an enclosed setting that limits the people who can be involved. The murderer has to be on the train with everyone else because there isn’t any way to escape the train without getting hurt. This is a great classic setting.

I’m looking forward to reading more Myrtle Hardcastle books in the future!

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1) by Marthe Jocelyn

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce #7) by Alan Bradley

About the author:

Elizabeth C. Bunce grew up on a steady diet of Sherlock Holmes, Trixie Belden, and Quincy, M.E., and always played the lead prosecutor in mock trial. She has never had a governess, and no one has ever accused her of being irrepressible, but a teacher did once call her “argumentative”—which was entirely untrue, and she can prove it. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and their cats. Premeditated Myrtle is her first book for middle-grade readers. You can find her online at elizabethcbunce.com.

Have you read Premeditated Myrtle or How to Get Away with Myrtle? What did you think of it?

Review: The Case of the Loathsome School Lunches (Mina Mistry (sort of) Investigates #1)

Title: The Case of the Loathsome School Lunches (Mina Mistry (sort of) Investigates #1)
Author: Angie Lake
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 29, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Being at school is boring. It’s really boring when you already know what you’re going to be. It’s really, really boring when you’re going to be something cool like a Private Investigator. Until then, Mina’s going to practise for her future. By keeping notes on all her classmates, spying on suspicious teachers, noticing every little―

Wait … 

Aren’t school lunches a bit strange? Chicken nuggets? Again? On Pizza? Covered in chocolate? Nobody wants to live on lettuce and broccoli, but children are losing teeth over this! This needs investigating. 

This looks like a case for Mina Mistry.

Review:

Mina Mistry keeps notes on her friends, family, and school. After learning about healthy food in class, Mina realizes that her school is serving only unhealthy food for lunch. The food choices are so unhealthy that students are getting cavities and the dentist is completely booked. Mina decides to investigate the unhealthy lunches at her school.

This is a great story to teach children about healthy eating. Healthy eating is an important topic at schools. It was ironic that the school was serving junk food while they taught the students how to eat healthy food.

This story was also quite funny. The school planned a fundraiser for their mailman, who needed money to pay for lawyer bills. He lost his hand from a dog attack in the past. Then, he was bit by another dog and the owners claimed that bite gave their dog food poisoning, so they sued him. That was such an outrageous story that it was funny.

The solution of the story was very clever. I didn’t realize what was happening, but it would probably be easy for a reader to figure out. I had missed one of the clues, but this mystery could be solved by the reader.

This is a cute middle grade mystery!

Thank you Sweet Cherry Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy

Megabat (Megabat #1) by Anna Humphrey, Kass Reich (illustrator)

Have you read The Case of the Loathsome School Lunches? What did you think of it?