The Ravenmaster’s Secret

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When  I first saw Elvira Woodruff’s The Ravenmaster’s Secret: Escape from the Tower of London, I couldn’t help thinking how terribly interesting and ominous it appeared to be, and I wanted to buy the book, but it was a bit expensive so I decided to pass on it first.

Then some months later, I mooched a book from abroad that needed an additional mooch to help defray shipping costs, and I found a copy of this book in the member’s inventory so I decided to finally get it.

A couple weekends ago, I went out of town for a board meeting with one of my clients and brought this along to read while traveling, and it turned out to be one of the best historical middle-reader books I’ve ever read.

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Joie de Vivre! (Two from Susie Morgenstern)

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I’d never heard of Susie Morgenstern before I picked up a hardbound copy of  A Book of Coupons (#109 for 2009) from the Book Sale bargain bin. It was P15, in pristine condition, and I initially thought it was one of those booklets that had tear-out coupons for little good deeds that you could give out to friends and family members.

When I got home, I realized it was a chapter book and read it in one sitting. A few weeks later, I found a copy of Susie Morgenstern’s Secret Letters from 0 to 10 (#110 for 2009) for P10 at a roving book sale and I ended up reading it in one sitting too!

Reading the back flap of one of the books, I found out that Susie Morgenstern is one of the most popular children’s  book writers in France, with over forty books for children. Interestingly, while she writes primarily in French, she is an American who moved to the south of France over thirty years ago! Her recent books, however, have been translated in English, so now more readers have been enjoying her books.

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The DollHouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

The Dollhouse Murders is a chillingly good murder mystery for kids.

Twelve-year old Amy is tired of being responsible for her special (it doesn’t specify how, but she seems to have Asperger’s, but is high-function) sister Louann. She retreats to her Dad’s ancestral home to live with her Aunt Claire. In the attic, she finds a beautiful dollhouse that is a perfect replica of her great-grandparents’ house. Her Aunt Claire is distressed upon seeing it, but Amy is fascinated and comes up to the attic to see more of the dollhouse.

Strange things happen at the dollhouse — the dolls that represent her relatives are never where she leaves it, and seem to move about the dollhouse. Amy thinks the dolls are trying to tell her something, but Aunt Claire doesn’t believe her.

After some sleuthing at the local library, Amy finds out that her great-grandparents were murdered in the house. The dollhouse holds the key to solving the mystery, and Amy and Louann must work together to resolve the grisly family secret once and for all.

The novel has a good set of characters, a fast-paced narration, and several chapters that will send shivers down your spine. The subplot about families dealing with special children is great too :)

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My copy: (actually my sister’s) – an old paperback from the bargain bin at Book Sale

My rating: 4/5 stars

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