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Razzle Dazzle Unicorn by Dana Simpson

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My oldest daughter is nine years old, and she loves comics and graphic novels. One day, she was very excited about telling me that there was going to be a new Phoebe and her Unicorn Adventure. When I told her that she would be able to read an advance reading copy, she was the happiest girl in the world.

Razzle Dazzle Unicorn is Dana Simpson’s fourth entry in the Phoebe and her Unicorn series. Phoebe is an elementary school aged girl who happens to have her very own unicorn. No one else can see Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, but she is Phoebe’s best friend.

The book covers about eight months of Phoebe’s life, beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with a return trip to summer camp. Phoebe and Marigold celebrate holidays, play Dungeons and Dragons, and interact with friends. Each page has a clever punchline in the last panel. Fans of the series will appreciate the reappearance of characters who appeared in the other books.

My daughter loved this book, and read it in one sitting. I also enjoyed experience with this book, and found myself reading strips out loud to my husband. I love the wry humor, and the friendship between Phoebe and Marigold.

I would absolutely recommend Razzle Dazzle Unicorn. You don’t have to read the previous Phoebe books to appreciate this one. Razzle Dazzle Unicorn is a quirky look at childhood, and will appeal to fans of comics like Calvin & Hobbes and Foxtrot. Phoebe and her Unicorn is a highly original comic, and I know my daughter and I are both looking forward to more Phoebe books in the future.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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Brightwood by Tania Unsworth

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Brightwood is a middle grade novel written by Tania Unsworth. This was originally published under the title The Secret Life of Daisy Fitzjohn, but the name was changed for the American edition.

Daisy Fitzjohn is a young girl living in a manor house in England. Her life is quite unconventional. To begin with, she has never left Brightwood Hall; this is a modern story, so never having left her house is unusual. Daisy has wondered about the outside world, but she is content to remain at home while her mother leaves the house for provisions. And if being isolated from the outside world was not enough, it is immediately clear that Daisy’s mother is a hoarder. Daisy is unfazed by the unconventional lifestyle; after all, she doesn’t know that anything is amiss. She is content to converse with her friends, like the rat named Tar and a topiary horse. Continue reading

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A Proposal to Die For by Vivian Conroy

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love historical fiction and mysteries, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read A Proposal to Die For. This is the first entry in Vivian Conroy’s new series featuring Lady Alkmene Callender, a young socialite in 1920s London.

When Silas Norwhich, a wealthy man, dies under suspicious circumstances, Lady Alkmene feels compelled to investigate. It doesn’t really matter to her that she has no experience or much of a connection to the deceased; she knows that something is not quite right, and she is determined to uncover the truth.

Alkmene crosses paths with a reporter named Jake Dubois, and at first, he sees her as an annoyance, and that she sees detective work as something to do to pass the time while her father is out of the country. Alkmene quickly realizes that he is not entirely incorrect; there is a great deal that she does not know about the way the world works. However, Jake must admit that Alkmene’s status provides her with admission to places that he would not be able to reach on his own. The two form an unlikely partnership. Continue reading

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Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

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My oldest daughter is nine years old, and she loves reading. She has started reading novels, but her favorite genre has always been graphic novels. Raina Telgemeier has always been my daughter’s favorite author; she has all of Telgemeier’s books, and even met her a few years ago. Needless to say, my daughter has been looking forward to Ghosts for months.

Ghosts is Telgemeier’s newest graphic novel.   Teenage protagonist Cat is not very happy about having to move to the small town of Bahia de la Luna, but her little sister Maya has cystic fibrosis and the climate will help her breathe better. Cat learns that the whole town is really into Dia de los Muertos; she thinks this is silly, but Maya really wants to meet a real ghost.

There is a boy in the story, Cat’s friends tease her about Carlos liking her, but the focus is not on a romantic relationship. Instead, there is an emphasis on friendship; Carlos shows Cat and Maya around the town, and he is the first one to tell them about the ghosts who live near the mission. Continue reading

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Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I am always looking for middle grade books to read with my nine-year-old daughter, and we both agreed that Beautiful Blue World sounded interesting. This is the first book in a new series by Suzanne LaFleur.

Mathilde is a twelve-year-old girl who lives in Lykellig, a city in Sofarende with her family. She has a best friend named Megs, and she goes to school every day. Their lives have changed drastically in recent months; their country has been fighting a war against Tyssia, a neighboring country. There are air raids at night, and food is sometimes scarce.

Mathilde and Megs receive paperwork at school regarding an upcoming examination. The army is looking for children, and are willing to pay generously. No one is sure what the children will be doing for the war effort, but Mathilde knows the money will help her family.   Continue reading

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Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love school stories, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read Lucy and Linh. This is a YA novel written by Alice Pung. It was originally published in Australia as Laurinda in 2014.

Lucy Lam is a teenage girl who wins an academic scholarship to attend Laurinda, a prestigious private school. This is a very big opportunity for her, and it is a testament to how much she has achieved since arriving in Australia as an immigrant when she was seven years old.

The story unfolds in an almost epistolary format, as Lucy recounts her experiences at Laurinda to Linh, who used to go to school with her. The girls are very different than what Lucy is used to, and this is not simply because they come from more affluent backgrounds than her old schoolmates. Lucy quickly realizes that a trio of girls called The Cabinet are the ones really running the show, and she is even more surprised when they take an interest in her. Continue reading

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Murder at Rough Point by Alyssa Maxwell

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

At the end of last year, I received an opportunity to read Murder Most Malicious– the first book in Alyssa Maxwell’s A Lady and Lady’s Maid historical mystery series. It was a wonderful book, so when the opportunity arose to read the latest entry in her Gilded Newport series, I was excited.

Murder at Rough Point is the fourth book in the Gilded Newport series. I have not read any of the other books, and this may have put me at a disadvantage. As the story begins, reporter (and shabby Vanderbilt cousin) Emma Cross is sent to cover a house party at one of the Newport “cottages”. The guests are an eclectic mix of artists, including Edith Wharton and her brooding husband Teddy.

When a guest turns up dead at the bottom of the cliff, it appears to be a suicide. But when a second guest is also found dead, it cannot be denied that there may be a more sinister force at play. It’s up to Emma to figure out who is committing these crimes; could she be next if she asks too many questions? Continue reading