Twelve year old October Schwartz has just moved to a new town and she’s starting her freshman year at the high school. However, she’s got a few problems: she really likes black, she’s definitely not skinny, and she’s a year younger than the rest of the kids in her year. Just as she’s adjusting to the new environment and getting as comfortable as possible in her own skin, her very cool French teacher dies in a freak, autoshop accident. Luckily, October discovers and convinces five ghost kids to help her solve the mystery of his death because while everyone thinks it was an accident, she’s convinced it was murder.
Sounds interesting right? I thought so too. October’s a really interesting character, full of spunk and determination. She’s the kind of girl I would have been glad to be friends with when I was thirteen. The mystery is also pretty interesting. I couldn’t figure out who did it until closer to the end, and so I totally felt October’s frustration every time her hunch proved wrong.
As much as I liked October and the mystery presented, I also had quite a few problems with the story. Firstly, the author switched between the first and third person POVs at random. It is my personal belief that if you are writing from one character’s perspective and not switching perspectives then you should stick with one POV. Otherwise things get pretty confusing and disorienting. I also thought the author took a while to get to the exciting part of the story and I especially didn’t like how Mr. Munday chose to talk directly to readers at times. It felt as though he were talking down to me at times and the rest of the time it felt unnecessary. Overall I’d give The Dead Kid Detective Agency, 3 out of 5 stars.
Cinder and Ella is a retelling of the ever popular Cinderella. It follows the story of a once happy family of a couple and their four daughters. The story follows the paths of two of those sisters: Cinder and Ella.
The story is written in the third person and reads like an actual fairytale. As much as it was endearing and beautiful, I’m not sure novel-length stories should be written in such a style. It started to wear a little thin after the first couple chapters but eventually I was able to ignore it and get into the story.
One thing I could not ignore was the characters. I know fairytale characters aren’t known for their depths but they were all rather flat. Ella was the only character to experience any form of growth and development in the entire story. Tanner’s feelings for Ella were lovely but the awkwardness of their earliest encounters felt forced and quite honestly I felt like strangling the king and queen. Luckily, I enjoyed myself as I followed Ella on her journey to save her sister, her family, and the land. While the ending was not the fairytale ending we might expect, it was beautiful and full of hope and for that Cinder and Ella earned 3 out of 5 stars.
Disclaimer: These books were received from the publishers via NetGalley in return for honest reviews.