Category: Reviews


Review: A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

Posted August 1, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 3 Comments

Review: A Spy in the House by Y.S. LeeThe Agency 1: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee
Published by Candlewick Press on October 26th 2010
Genres: Europe, Family, Historical, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Orphans & Foster Homes, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Rating: three-starsthree-starsthree-stars

Introducing an exciting new series! Steeped in Victorian atmosphere and intrigue, this diverting mystery trails a feisty heroine as she takes on a precarious secret assignment. Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past.

This review is for a feature that Read Diverse Books has going, called Read Diverse Books Year Round. The goal is to read and review books from marginalized voices, #ownvoices, etc., which can include themes such as race, LGBTQA+, and disabilities. If you want to join in on this feature, check out the Read Diverse Books site (linked above) for more information!

Review

When Mary is sentenced to the gallows for thievery at a young age, she is saved by the orchestrates of a school called Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls. There, she learns skills to help her become an independent woman until she is 17, when she is told the secret of the academy: the academy also includes a top secret group of female investigators, and they want Mary to become one of their agents. Eager to find a position she loves, Mary accepts, and her first assignment is to pose as a lady’s companion at a rich merchant’s house to uncover the secrets behind his sketchy trades. There are secrets around every corner, and Mary will need all her training to find the truth.

I love the premise for this book. Academies with ulterior motives are my favorite, and this one is no exception. Lee does a fabulous job of capturing the historical setting and especially honing the frustrations Mary feels as a woman of the time, whose options for a career are so limited. Mary is also biracial (half Chinese, half Irish), but can pass as white, and she has to be extremely cautious of anyone finding out because of how worse the prospects are for a woman of color. Lee tackles those harsh truths magnificently, and it’s great to see more diverse historicals that discuss race issues.

While I love the premise, the sass, and the surprising villain, I had a hard time really getting into the story. I did enjoy it, but I wasn’t dying to find out what was going to happen next. The mystery builds a bit slowly, and parts of it were predictable. However, I can definitely see others really getting into it, and I think it was mostly just not the best fit for me. I absolutely still recommend it, though, to readers who love a good historical mystery with top notch diversity, some flirty banter, and a surprise twist at the end.

Samantha

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Review: The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder

Posted July 21, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 0 Comments
Review: The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder

ReviewThe Rat Prince is a Cinderella retelling following the perspectives of Cinderella and the Rat Prince Char. Prince Char has watched Cinderella get bullied by her stepmother, and Cinderella enjoys Char’s friendship, even if he’s a rat. She plans to defy her stepmother as soon as possible, but she can’t leave her memory-addled father behind. […]

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Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Posted July 18, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 2 Comments
Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

This review is for a feature that Read Diverse Books has going, called Read Diverse Books Year Round. The goal is to read and review books from marginalized voices, #ownvoices, etc., which can include themes such as race, LGBTQA+, and disabilities. If you want to join in on this feature, check out the Read Diverse […]

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Review: Ash by Malinda Lo

Posted July 11, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 3 Comments
Review: Ash by Malinda Lo

This review is for a feature that Read Diverse Books has going, called Read Diverse Books Year Round. The goal is to read and review books from marginalized voices, #ownvoices, etc., which can include themes such as race, LGBTQA+, and disabilities. If you want to join in on this feature, check out the Read Diverse […]

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Review: Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard

Posted July 5, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 2 Comments
Review: Lucky Strikes by Louis Bayard

ReviewShort and Sweet:Excellent Southern representation + resilient protagonist + family feels rivaling those in Lilo & Stitch= 5 shining starsTo Elaborate…When Amelia’s mother dies, Amelia is left alone in charge of her little sister and brother. The three of them aim to continue running their small, family gas station, but without a parent, the foster […]

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Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Posted July 1, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 0 Comments
Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

This review is for a feature that Read Diverse Books has going, called Read Diverse Books Year Round. The goal is to read and review books from marginalized voices, #ownvoices, etc., which can include themes such as race, LGBTQA+, and disabilities. If you want to join in on this feature, check out the Read Diverse […]

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Blog Tour Review: How to Hang a Witch

Posted June 30, 2016 by Sabrina in Blog Tours, Reviews / 4 Comments
Blog Tour Review: How to Hang a Witch

 ReviewShort and Sweet:How to Hang a Witch is a haunting and atmospheric read. A perfect story for Halloween and for fans of The Craft and Hocus Pocus who can’t read enough about the Salem Witch Trials. I was thoroughly engrossed from page one and often surprised by the twists and turns the story took!To Elaborate…Stories […]

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Review: Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Posted June 13, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 6 Comments
Review: Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This review is for a feature that Read Diverse Books has going, called Read Diverse Books Year Round. The goal is to read and review books from marginalized voices, #ownvoices, etc., which can include themes such as race, LGBTQA+, and disabilities. If you want to join in on this feature, check out the Read Diverse […]

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Review: Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Posted June 7, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 2 Comments
Review: Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Hi all! This review is for a feature that Read Diverse Books has going, called Read Diverse Books Year Round. The goal is to read and review books from marginalized voices, #ownvoices, etc., which can include themes such as race, LGBTQ+, and disabilities. Last time, I reviewed Paula Stokes’s GIRL AGAINST THE UNIVERSE, which focuses […]

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Review: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Posted June 2, 2016 by Samantha in Reviews / 4 Comments
Review: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Hi all! If you haven’t heard, Read Diverse Books has created a feature called Read Diverse Books Year-Round, which encourages “all book bloggers to read at least one book that falls under one of the following categories every month: 1) A book by and about a person of color, 2) A book by or about a […]

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