Premeditated Myrtle, and How to Get Away with Myrtle, by Elizabeth C. Bunce | blog tour and reviews

Hello! Today is my stop on the blog tour for two wonderful books: Premeditated Myrtle, and How to Get Away with Myrtle, by Elizabeth C. Bunce. I really enjoyed reading these books, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on them!

Premeditated Myrtle

Author: Elizabeth C. Bunce

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Release Date: October 6th, 2020

Genre: Middle grade, historical, mystery

Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle has a passion for justice and a Highly Unconventional obsession with criminal science. Armed with her father’s law books and her mum’s microscope, Myrtle studies toxicology, keeps abreast of the latest developments in crime scene analysis, and Observes her neighbors in the quiet village of Swinburne, England.

When her next-door neighbor, a wealthy spinster and eccentric breeder of rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and find the killer, even if nobody else believes her — not even her father, the town prosecutor.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher, Algonquin books, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion and my review.

Myrtle was an excellent protaganist, and I loved reading from her perspective. She was always curious, and always searching for answer. The way that we followed her through her investigation in the book was interesting and easy enough to understand.

The first part of the book did start off a little slow, however. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, and what was happening. But once I was able to get to know the characters a little better, and to better grasp the setting and what was going on, the rest of the book flew by!

Well, sort of. Premeditated Myrtle actually took me longer than I expected to read, but I didn’t mind. I spend four or five days on this book, setting aside a fair amount of time every day. The mystery aspect of the books was so complex, that sometimes I had to go back and reread sections, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Throughout the book, I tried over and over to guess the murderer, but I never did. When at the end of the book everything was revealed, I was shocked. The ending was nothing like I expected, however, it all made so much sense.

This book was a middle grade murder mystery, and I thought that it was done quite well. The book had the right amount of well, murder, for a middle grade book. It was never too much, or too overwhelming, but it also didn’t soften the content so much.

Going back to characters, Myrtle was not the only interesting one. I was actually fascinated by Miss Judson, her governess and fellow investigator. I did want a little more information on her though. What is her backstory? I know that Myrtle’s aunt Helena hired her, but nothing more. And she is a talented artist. Did she go to art school?

I also really enjoyed the historical setting. The book takes place in late 1800s England, and I thought that the author did a really wonderful job with that. The writing also feels like it really reflects the time period.

I love middle grade, I love historical novels, and I love mysteries, (although I don’t read many) and this book puts all three genres into a complex murder mystery perfect for younger readers.

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Recommendable: Yes

To who? Younger readers looking for an interesting mystery will have fun with this book, and older readers will enjoy it and appreciate the complexity of the plot and the historical aspects.

How to Get Away with Myrtle

Author: Elizabeth C. Bunce

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Release Date: October 6th, 2020

Genre: Middle grade, historical, mystery

Synopsis:

Before the train has left the station, England’s most accomplished new detective already is on a suspect’s trail, and readers will be delighted to travel along. 

Myrtle Hardcastle has no desire to go on a relaxing travel excursion with her aunt Helena when there are More Important things to be done at home, like keeping close tabs on criminals and murder trials. Unfortunately, she has no say in the matter. So off Myrtle goes—with her governess, Miss Judson, and cat, Peony, in tow—on a fabulous private railway coach headed for the English seaside.

Myrtle is thrilled to make the acquaintance of Mrs. Bloom, a professional insurance investigator aboard to protect the priceless Northern Lights tiara. But before the train reaches its destination, both the tiara and Mrs. Bloom vanish. When Myrtle arrives, she and Peony discover a dead body in the baggage car. Someone has been murdered—with Aunt Helena’s sewing shears.

The trip is derailed, the local police are inept, and Scotland Yard is in no rush to arrive. What’s a smart, bored Young Lady of Quality stranded in a washed-up carnival town to do but follow the evidence to find out which of her fellow travelers is a thief and a murderer?

I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher, Algonquin books, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion and my review.

The first Myrtle Hardcastle mystery started a bit slow, but I cannot say the same for the sequel. How to Get Away with Myrtle follows 12 year old Myrtle once more as she again gets caught up in a murder; the very thing that her father was hoping she’d avoid.

In this book, Myrtle is sent on a vacation with her aunt Helena, who she is none too fond of. However, the vacation isn’t nearly as boring as she’d dreaded it would be. When there is a murder on the very train that she is taking, she immediately knows that to give the victim justice she will have to take matters into her own hands, and solve the case herself, with, of course, the help of Miss Judson and some old friends and new friends.

This mystery was even more breathtaking than the last. I did not see any of what happened coming, and I most definitely did not figure out who the murderer was.

I think that part of why I enjoyed this book more than the previous one in the series was that I already knew Myrtle and a lot of the other characters, and I already understood more of who Myrtle was, just more overall about her character.

I really liked getting to see more of Miss Judson in this book, however once again I was curious about her. I also wanted to know more about Myrtle’s aunt Helena. She was very funny to read about though!

I actually thought that the overall writing was better in this book, the second in the series. The descriptions of the characters and settings felt more real, and the events were more vivid and imaginable.

How to Get Away with Myrtle was a fast paced, fun and interesting read.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Recommendable: Yes

To who? A sequel that surpasses the expectation from the book before it, How to Get Away with Myrtle is perfect for anyone who enjoyed Premeditated Myrtle. I think that older readers would enjoy this book even more than the first, and that anyone would have fun with this second installment about Myrtle Hardcastle.


Elizabeth C. Bunce is the author of the new Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery series, beginning with Premeditated Myrtle.

Her first novel, A Curse Dark as Gold, won the inaugural William C. Morris Award for a young adult debut novel and was named a Smithsonian Notable Book. Her high fantasy Thief Errant series includes the novels StarCrossed, A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best book for 2010, and Liar’s Moon, one of Kirkus Blog’s Favorite YA Novels of 2011. StarCrossed and A Curse Dark as Gold have appeared on Oprah’s Kid’s Reading List. Her novels have been named to the ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and she is a three-time Kansas Notable Book winner. An accomplished needlewoman and historical costumer, Elizabeth lives in the Midwest with her husband, her cats, and a boggart who steals books.

Website | Goodreads

I was having my doubts at the beginning of the first book, but now, I can’t wait for book three! Myrtle is such an interesting and fun (although often morbid) protagonist, and books through her perspective are sure to be wild!

Both mysteries were complicated and well put together, and overall amazing. The writing only got better, and the historical aspects were fantastic.

Have you read either of these books? What are some of your favorite middle grade mysteries? Chat with me in the comments below!

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