Book Review: Murder is Bad Manners

Murder is Bad Manners
By Robin Stevens

My Edition:
Paperback, 307 pages
2015, Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781481422130

Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells have their secret detective club, but until Hazel finds the dead body of one of their teachers in the gym, the pair has never investigated anything as serious as a murder. When they try to alert someone of the body, they return to the gym and find it go. Now they must not only solve the murder but prove it even happened.

I heard about this book over at Richard’s Book Nook and bought it straight away because it’s a middle-grade murder mystery set in the 1930s and I can’t think of anything more perfect! I’m not even sure if he’s read it yet, but I loved it.

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: Middle Grade

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I do purchase special editions of books and multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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Book Review: The Wonderling

The Wonderling
By Mira Bartók

My Edition:
ARC paperback, 450 pages
2017, Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763691219 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: September 26

The Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures houses creatures that are not quite animals and not quite humans and is run by the malevolent Miss Carbunkle and her allergy-ridden (and aptly named) henchman Sneezeweed. At The Home, the creatures, known as groundlings, toil away in Miss C’s widget factory and suffer through hideous lessons like how to be better servants. One groundling, known only as Number Thirteen, has a desperate wish to find out where he came from – all he has is a scrap of a baby blanket, a gold key and the memory of a song. When he saves a new student from a group of bullies and she renames him Arthur, after the great king of old, he finds his courage and starts his quest to discover where he came from.

This is an adorable middle-grade fronted by a timid character who learns to stand up for himself and embrace his hidden talents.

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I do purchase special editions of books and multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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Book Review: The Girl With the Ghost Machine

pic from NetGalley

The Girl With the Ghost Machine
By Lauren DeStefano

My Edition:
ARC ebook, 224 pages
2017, Bloomsbury
ISBN: 9781681194448 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: June 6

After the loss of her mother, Emmaline’s father begins tinkering with a strange contraption that he believes will bring back the ghost of his wife. Still suffering from the loss of her mother, Emmaline now feels she’s losing her father to his work on the machine. When confronted with proof that the machine works, Emmaline must battle with how she feels the machine should be used and if the cost is even worth it.

I’m going to come right out and say that I found this book underwhelming and forgettable. I love the concept and how thought-provoking it was, but the characters were weak and I couldn’t connect to the story because of that.

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Book Review: Sophie Someone

Sophie Someone
By Hayley Long

My Edition:
Hardcover, 258 pages
2017, Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763689957

Fourteen-year-old Sophie Nieuwenleven has lived in Belgium for almost as long as she can remember, though she knows her family left England. As the past begins to catch up with them, Sophie starts piecing together details from her past until her family’s terrible secret is revealed and it changes everything she thinks she knows about herself. So Sophie tells her story, but in the only way she feels comfortable – in her own language.

I wasn’t expecting the writing to be so stylized, so right off the bat I was confused. Sure, the back of the book mentions Sophie telling her story in the only way she knows how, but I wasn’t paying attention to the back of the book, was I? (No. No I wasn’t.)

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Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia

The Bridge to Terabithia
By Katherine Paterson

My Edition:
Paperback (40th Anniversary), 179 pages
1977, Harper
ISBN: 9780064401845

Jess Aarons works hard on his family farm – with his father working long hours and his four sisters nearly useless, Jess is constantly harangued by his mother. To distract himself, he’s been practicing running and hopes to be the fastest runner in 5th grade. When Leslie Burke, the new girl in town, easily beats him in a race, he finds he’s not nearly as fast as he thought, but more importantly, he finds the beginning of a strong friendship.

UGH THIS BOOK.

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: More Charles de Lint

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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Book Review: A Pocket Full of Murder

A Pocket Full of Murder
By R.J. Anderson

My Edition:
Paperback, 368 pages
2016, Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 9781481437721

Isaveth’s father has just been arrested for a murder she knows he didn’t commit. Determined to seek justice and prove her father’s innocence, she teams up with a wise street urchin and begins unraveling a plot that winds its way through the divide in social classes in her magical city of Tarrenton. The rich have all the magic they could want, while poor folk like Isaveth and her family can barely afford spells for heat and light. The unrest of the common citizens is at its boiling point and the murder pinned on her father will only make matters worse unless she can prove he didn’t do it.

-stares open-mouthed into the distance for a moment- Oh! I finally understand the title! Ahem, anyway.

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Book Review: Piratica

Piratica
(Being a Daring Tale of a Singular Girl’s Adventure Upon the High Seas)
By My Queen Tanith Lee

My Edition:
Hardcover, 288 pages
2003, Dutton Children’s Books
ISBN: 0525473246

Art has been banished to the Angels Academy for the last six years of her life, learning deportment and other ladylike qualities that bore her to death. A fall down the stairs and a knock to the head suddenly causes her to remember her childhood, which was spent at her mother’s side on a pirate ship. Art quickly escapes the academy, finds her mother’s old crew and revives their spirits by basically forcing them back into a life of piracy as she lives in the spirit of her legendary mother, Piratica.

-screams- TANITH! Er, ok, so, I’ve read a ton of middle-grade this month and, sadly, none of it has impressed me. It was time for a change and I knew just what would do the trick – Tanith Lee! I’ve been sitting on this Piratica series for FAR too long and I don’t know why. I love how atmospheric her Claidi series is and my semi-recent re-read of The Unicorn Trilogy made me recall the special place her middle-grade/teen (I feel like all these series fall somewhere in between) books have in my crusty little heart.

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