Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.
I (Kate) read Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach and listened to The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer recently, and decided to write two quick reviews of these similar books in a single post.
Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Mystery
Rating: 3.5 stars
A missing diamond, a mysterious neighbor, a link to Shakespeare-can Hero uncover the connections?
When Hero starts sixth grade at a new school, she’s less concerned about the literary origins of her Shakespearean name than about the teasing she’s sure to suffer because of it. So she has the same name as a girl in a book by a dusty old author. Hero is simply not interested in the connections.
But that’s just the thing; suddenly connections are cropping up all over, and odd characters and uncertain pasts are exactly what do fascinate Hero. There’s a mysterious diamond hidden in her new house, a curious woman next door who seems to know an awful lot about it, and then, well, then there’s Shakespeare. Not to mention Danny Cordova, only the most popular boy in school. Is it all in keeping with her namesake’s origin-just much ado about nothing? Hero, being Hero, is determined to figure it out.
In this fast-paced novel, Elise Broach weaves an intriguing literary mystery full of historical insights and discoveries.
Shakespeare’s Secret didn’t seem like much of a mystery book. Instead it was just the story of a girl’s life with a little mystery that could have taken up only about ten pages of the whole entire book. I didn’t like how there was only one clue, because I was expecting an entire mystery book, and only one clue disappointed me.
The characters seemed a little odd, but not off-puttingly weird. What I mean by this is there was a young girl working with an old lady, and she had a friend two grades older than her, the same age as her sister.
The description calls this book a “fast-paced novel,” but I didn’t find that it had much of a plot at all. Since the mystery is such a small part of a book, I still am not sure what this book is entirely about. If someone asked me to summarize the book, I wouldn’t really know what to say.
The small part that the characters did figure out what pretty interesting. For example, they discovered some historical information (that wasn’t exactly historically accurate, but would have been cool if it was), which was fun to read about. I liked how the book talked about Shakespeare and Anne Boleyn, because those are historical figures that interest me.
The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
Series: The Enola Holmes Mysteries, Book 1
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Sherlock Holmes!
Rating: 4 stars
When Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared—on her 14th birthday nonetheless—she knows she alone can find her. Disguising herself as a grieving widow, Enola sets out to the heart of London to uncover her mother’s whereabouts—but not even the last name Holmes can prepare her for what awaits. Suddenly involved in the kidnapping of the young Marquess of Basilwether, Enola must escape murderous villains, free the spoiled Marquess, and perhaps hardest of all, elude her shrewd older brother—all while collecting clues to her mother’s disappearance!
I liked the story of The Case of the Missing Marquess, but it wasn’t much of a mystery. Similar to Shakespeare’s Secret, this book didn’t really have enough clues for me to fully enjoy it as a mystery. The clues were mostly all at the beginning, making the ending seem weird and incomplete.
I don’t like how she didn’t fully complete her goal, even though it seemed really important at the beginning of the book. In addition, the end was confusing and hard to understand how it would work.
All in all, I did really enjoy the story of The Case of the Missing Marquess, and look forward to reading the rest of the Enola Holmes mysteries.
I didn’t find that this book was written in a very middle grade style, but was more mature, which made me like it even more. I however would give it 3 stars, because I did not enjoy the plot in the least. It was boring and confusing and seemed to go in many different directions. In addition, there wasn’t much of a conclusion to wrap it all up.
I loved the Sherlock Holmes connections, being a fan of both the original books and the TV series. Most of all, I loved hearing Katherine Kellgren’s voice in a setting different from the Bloody Jack Adventures books (yes, we listened to this as an audiobook together, and it is narrated by my favorite audiobook narrator, Katherine Kellgren).