Soft Bullets: A Review of The Woman in White

The girl held her Nerf gun close to her chest. “It’s not fair!” she hissed at me. “I got that girl, and she’s still shooting!” Suddenly she stood and began shouting. “Hey! I got you! You’re dead!”

I waved her down.

“But it isn’t fair,” she protested, huddling under the protection of the table.

“No one’s playing by the rules here,” I said impatiently. “‘Fair’ doesn’t matter.” I studied the soft foam bullet in my palm. Was the world even fair? I loaded my gun. Did we impede justice, or did it support it?

I shot, and missed.

Continue reading “Soft Bullets: A Review of The Woman in White

Magnum Opus: A Review of The Mysterious Benedict Society Trilogy

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Many people, if not all, know the saying “Never judge a book by its cover.” A couple years ago, I had resolved never to judge a book by its cover. I was pretty sure that I had followed that rule—until now. You see, a few years ago a friend gave us a book. Unfortunately, the cover illustration didn’t appeal to me (I recall that I thought that the people didn’t look realistic enough), and I didn’t read it. But here I am, or here this review is, to tell you about that poor, ignored book: The Mysterious Benedict Society Trilogy by Trenton Lee Stewart!

The Mysterious Benedict Society Trilogy is about a group of four children—Kate, Reynie, Sticky, and Constance (aka The Mysterious Benedict Society)—who are chosen to solve a problem. Led by Mr. Benedict, they get electrified, handcuffed, and chased during their struggles to defeat Ledroptha Curtain (Mr. Benedict’s evil twin) and his wicked machine, the Whisperer. But Mr. Curtain is also dangerous. Will the Mysterious Benedict Society survive?

The Mysterious Benedict Society (book no. 1) was extremely adventurous. In this book, the Society goes to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, Mr. Curtain’s school. Every day the Executives (Mr. Curtain’s helpers) gather in the gym. Reynie has the feeling that they were up to something, so he climbs up on Kate’s shoulders to peek. That’s not merely risky—that’s adventurous!

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (the second book) was exceedingly mysterious. In this book, Mr. Benedict is kidnapped by Mr. Curtain. However, Mr. Benedict leaves behind clues wherever he is taken. But some of them don’t make sense at all. What is the “twin moon?” Who is the “close” person Mr. Benedict talked about? You could say that the book smells of mystery.

The third book, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma, was full of suspense. Although I did get a little confused when the Ten Men launched their assault on the Society, one question thundered through my head as I read it: “Is this the end of The Mysterious Benedict Society?” I flipped the pages faster and faster, just to find that the Society was completely . . . actually, I don’t think I’ll tell you.

This trilogy was a magnum opus. If you like action and mystery, you’ll love it. Remember, never judge a book by its cover. Especially not this one!

Age: 10+

You can buy the books here.

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From Simple to Sinister: A Review of And Then There Were None

I used to think that nursery rhymes were silly, simple, and annoying. They rang in my head, over and over: Little Jack Horner and Little Miss Muffet and Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Beep. Why would I “waste my time” reading nursery rhymes? But after reading And Then There Were None, my perspective changed. I never knew that something so simple could become so sinister.

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Real Mystery: A Review of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

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I have never been a mystery book fanatic. I’ve always preferred historical fiction or fantasy—books of action. Whenever I see a mystery book, I usually think, “Mmm-hmm. I’ll read that later. Is there anything else?” But if all the mystery books in existence were like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, I’d be addicted to mystery books. (Well, almost.)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is a collection of the 12 most famous adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It includes A Scandal in Bohemia, The Adventure of the Speckled Band, and The Red Headed League. I was extremely entertained by this collection, and if you’re wondering, this is the real thing (not retold for children).

Okay, I’ll tell you this again, so that you know the truth: this book was engaging! These stories were told in the perspective of Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ friend and assistant. Dr. Watson tells the disturbing and strange facts of the cases, but he leaves you almost totally in the dark concerning Holmes’ logic. At the end of each adventure, however, Holmes explains his deductions given the facts and the steps he took to solve the mystery.

But heaven knows what this book would have been like had the cases been about silly problems like stolen peaches. Instead, the cases were uncanny and bewildering. What was the “speckled band”? What did the initials K.K.K. stand for? Why would a governess have to wear an electric blue dress and crop her hair short? The people who present the case make you anxious too: their faces are contorted with unease, they pace up and down; they talk hurriedly in distressed voices. Yes, I definitely prefer these cases to problems about stolen peaches (or anything silly like that).

So do you want to be thrilled? Oh, a little extravagant Victorian era English won’t stop you, right? So go ahead! Pick up this book! See if you can stay one step ahead of Sherlock Holmes.

You can buy the book here.

Ages: 12+

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