Top Marks for Murder (A Murder Most Unladylike #8) by Robin Stevens

Top Marks for Murder.jpgTitle: Top Marks for Murder (A Murder Most Unladylike #8)

Author: Robin Stevens

Genre: Historical Fiction/Crime

Publisher: Puffin

Published: 6th August 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 400

Price: $16.99

Synopsis:Daisy and Hazel are finally back at Deepdean, and the school is preparing for a most exciting event: the fiftieth Anniversary.

Plans for a weekend of celebrations are in full swing. But all is not well, for in the detectives’ long absence, Daisy has lost her crown to a fascinating, charismatic new girl – while Beanie is struggling with a terrible revelation.

As parents descend upon Deepdean for the Anniversary, decades-old grudges, rivalries and secrets begin to surface. Then the girls witness a shocking incident in the woods close by – and soon, a violent death occurs.

Can the girls solve the case – and save their home?

The brilliant new mystery from the bestselling, award-winning author of Murder Most Unladylike.

~*~

Top Marks for Murder was my first adventure with Daisy, Hazel and their Deepdean friends, and I really enjoyed it. Set in the 1930s, just a few years before the outbreak of World War Two. Nestled in a private school, Daisy and Hazel have returned to school for a two-month absence, just in time for the school’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations. They meet new girl, Amina El Maghrabi from Cairo, who has taken Daisy’s crown – a history that seeps through from previous books. As the girls prepare for the anniversary, animosity builds between some of the fourth formers. But the Friday of the weekend anniversary, Beanie sees what appears to be a murder – and from there, Daisy and Hazel find themselves looking into a possible murder, and looking at the parents as suspects as they uncover secrets from many years ago that could be bubbling to the surface as murder comes to Deepdean and threatens to close the school forever.

This is one series I would love to go back and read the rest of the series to get to know the characters more and see what other crimes Daisy and Hazel have investigated. Exploring the class system in England, coupled with characters like Hazel – the narrator of the series, and Amina – from Hong Kong and Egypt, countries with a colonial influence, the novels bring diversity into the books on many levels, and show a world beyond what previous series may have explored from other authors.  The schoolgirl rivalries are eventually set aside as the murder of a teacher rocks the school, and Daisy, Hazel and their friends recreate crime scenes and ask a London police officer to help them investigate. But who is the killer and how will they uncover the crime and save the school?

Even though this is a series, I feel one can pick it up at any point, and go back and forth as you find the books, but I am hoping to eventually read them in order and get a full understanding of the story and characters. It is funny, light but at the same time, has moments of darkness amidst an English boarding school setting that is familiar from many series from Enid Blyton books and Harry Potter but also has a few differences that make it a unique series for readers aged about ten and older to enjoy, and feel as though they are investigating the crime with Hazel and Daisy.

It is also a sort of school-girl homage to Sherlock and Watson, which I thoroughly enjoyed about it and thought it was an intriguing way to look at the world of consulting or amateur detectives in a very different setting and with a very different set of characters. Looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Monty the Sad Puppy by Holly Webb

monty the sad puppy.jpgTitle: Monty the Sad Puppy

Author: Holly Webb, illustrated by Sophy Williams.

Genre: Animal Stories, Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Scholastic

Published: 12th January 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 126

Price: $15.98

Synopsis:Is going from no dogs to two dogs as perfect as it sounds? Amelie has always wanted a dog, but she never dreamed she’d end up with TWO! First, her family adopt cuddly little puppy Monty. But almost right away, another furry friend needs their help. Grandad is going into a care home, so his beloved dachshund Daisy has to come and live with them. Amelie can’t wait – but when Daisy arrives, she’s unhappy and scared. Meanwhile, poor little Monty has no idea what’s going on. Who is this strange new arrival? Why is everyone fussing over her? Doesn’t Amelie care about him anymore?

Blurb on book: Amelie has only had her gorgeous puppy Monty for a few months when her grandad falls ill He desperately needs someone to look after his beloved dachshund Daisy so Mum and Dad agree to give her a home. Amelie promises Grandad she will look after Daisy brilliantly.

But when Daisy arrives, she is unhappy and scared. Meanwhile, Monty doesn’t understand why Amelie is making such a fuss of the new arrival. Doesn’t Amelie love him anymore?

~*~

Monty’s life as a puppy is perfect – at five months old, he’s full of bounce and energy, and a strength he is unaware of. The little black Labrador loves to play with Amelie and her brother, Josh, and go on walks. But when Grandad’s dog, Daisy, comes to live with them, Monty is confused and sad because Amelie spends a lot of time with Daisy, and seems to be cross with him all the time. Monty is left wondering if Amelie still loves him, and whether he should run away or stay at home.

This was the second book I wrote a quiz for, and that I am also reviewing here. Monty the Sad Puppy is aimed at seven to nine year olds, and is a book they can progress to reading confidently on their own. It is a cute story, that explores responsibility for pets and within a family, where Amelie and Josh are given the job of taking care of Monty and Daisy, along with school, homework and football/soccer training. I enjoyed this charming little story as it followed Monty and his owners, and how they came to have two dogs. Monty was a very  cute character and seeing the world through the eyes of a puppy was fun to do.

I fell in love with Monty when I read this, and wanted to give him lots of hugs when he was sad. Holly Webb has written a delightful story that can be enjoyed by many, either read by themselves or read to them, and I hope other readers get as much enjoyment out of it as I did.

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