Bite-Sized Reviews #1 - The Middle-Grade Mystery and Mermaids Edition


I hope you guys are all doing well.

I've decided to create a new little feature called Bite-Sized Reviews.
I tend to write really long, detailed reviews.
I also have a "rule" that I can't start reading another book until I've written a review for the book I just finished. Frustrating, but it prevents a backlog of reviews that need to be written. After seven years of blogging I've decided to do a feature where I combine several mini reviews into one post for books that I haven't been sent to review but still want to talk about on The Blog. YAY. 

Look Into My Eyes (Ruby Redfort, #1)The Mystery of the Painted Dragon (The SinclairΓ’€™s Mysteries #3)The Mystery of the Midnight Peacock (The Sinclair's mysteries #4)Real Mermaids DonΓ’€™t Wear Toe Rings (Real Mermaids, #1)

I saw this on my library's ebook site and thought it looked like a super cute, fun read! For the most part it was, but there were several things I wasn't crazy about. 

🐠 Cute premise! I love mermaid stories. Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings is about Jade who turns into a mermaid while in the bath. She discovers her mom was a mermaid...but it doesn't add up, as her mother drowned the previous year. How could she drown if she was a mermaid? OOH MERMAID MYSTERY.

🐠 Real issues! I think a lot of younger teenagers will enjoy and relate to this book. There are boy issues and friendship issues. The main character also gets her first period in the book, which is refreshing to see. Not enough YA books talk about this! The main character also talks about her love handles and being a bit bigger than other girls but in a positive manner. 

🐠 The characters! I liked the characters. Jade is a strong girl. She's funny and a bit awkward and clumsy. She's very genuine, and I think for this, a lot of readers will be able to relate to her and root for her. I loved Jade's dad as well. Him and Jade are very close and he's very involved in her life. πŸ‘ That being said, the other characters felt quite one-dimensional and I didn't feel connected to any of them.

🐠 The romance! The romance was really sweet. The romance was really wholesome, clean and quite adorable! 

🐠 Plot...meh! I wasn't a huge fan of the plot. It felt slightly all over the place at times and it didn't have much substance to it either. I would've liked a more developed plot. 

Verdict: A cute, fluffy, quick summer's read! 

OH, I LOVE THESE BOOKS. They are truly the best. Set in Edwardian times, the series follows Sophie, Lil, Billy, and Joe as they face dastardly villains and terrifying conundrums in 20th century London. 

πŸ”Ž The premise! I LOVE THE PREMISE. It's about Sophie, who has just secured a job at Sinclairs Department store, one of the grandest, most unique department stores in the world (think Harrods). It's about a terrifying villain Sophie meets several times, a villain who somehow has links to her father who died recently. It's about Lil, Sophie's newfound friend, who is a rising star in the acting world. It's about Billy, a porter, with a fondness for mystery books; it's about Joe, who has put a life of crime and gangs behind him to work as a stable boy. The four friends stumble upon several mysteries in the series involving the death of a debutante, theft of highly valuable paintings, sinister organisations, attempted assassinations - who knew life could be so exciting in Edwardian London?

πŸ”Ž The plot + mysteries! I love the plots in these books. There are many clues scattered throughout the books, as well as heart-stopping moments, terrifying situations, and non-stop fun. It's so entertaining and utterly brilliant in every way. If you love mysteries, READ THESE.

πŸ”Ž The characters! When I read the first book a couple of months ago, I liked the characters but I didn't LOVE them. That all changed, however, upon the completion of the second book. With every installment I read, I saw the characters evolve before my eyes. They grew in confidence, courage, self-acceptance and knowledge. They all had such unique personalities and I adored every single one of them. I would look forward to each new book, as I knew I would be able to spend time with characters that I had grown incredibly fond of. 

πŸ”Ž The setting! I also liked how with each installment the author expanded the world a little bit more. Although Sinclairs is the main hub for the activity of the books, the author really branches out in the sequels. The characters solve mysteries in a sprawling stately home, a school for art, China town and grand balls. I loved all the fun settings and the exploration of London that took place in the series

πŸ”Ž The writing! I adore the way Katherine Woodfine writes. A lot of middle-grade books tend to have very simple language as they are for younger readers, but the quality of Katherine Woodfine's writing creates a series that is simple enough to understand for younger readers, but written with such heart, humour, and intelligence that it can be thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by older readers. The writing is also very quaint and fits in well with the Edwardian era, which I love.

Verdict: The most charming, exciting, wonderful mystery series that everyone can enjoy!

I actually bought the hardcover of the first Ruby Redfort book back in 2012. But I never got around to reading it (we'll pretend we're surprised). However, after reading the Sinclairs Mysteries series, I knew I needed to read another middle-grade/YA mystery/spy book. I was browsing my library's ebook system and I found the first Ruby Redfort book was available. I decided to start reading it...and I LOVED IT. I can't wait for the rest of the series to become available in 5 days - I CAN SCARCELY WAIT.

πŸ‘€ The plot! I love the plot. I grew up reading spy and mystery books, so I felt a sense of nostalgia reading this, despite never having read Ruby Redfort before. The plot was gripping and enthralling. I loved all the clues. I loved the zany things that happened. I was gripped the whole way through. Despite this book being around 400 pages, I read it in a few hours. I couldn't put it down; it was amazing.

πŸ‘€ The characters! I LOVE THE CHARACTERS SO MUCH. Can I be Ruby Redfort when I grow up, please? She's sassy and snarky. She owns the world's coolest collection of t-shirts. She's insanely smart, brave, and witty. I absolutely adored her character. Her parents and Mrs. Digby were brilliant too. They added so much humour to the story and I loved their characters. I adored Clancy Crew, Ruby Redfort's best friend. Supportive and steadfastly loyal, he's a brilliant sidekick.

πŸ‘€ The writing! I LOVE THE WRITING. It's intelligent, witty, authentic...I absolutely loved the writing style. It gave the story so much flair and made it such a fantastically fun read! 

This book has it all. The story-telling is dynamic and the characters are feisty, witty and some are downright dastardly. I loved the plot. It was a spy adventure at its best. Complete with code-cracking, sinister villains, and incredible gadgets, Look Into My Eyes was one heck of a ride. I can't wait to read more of these brilliantly witty and completely enthralling books! 

Verdict: Sarcastic, genius main character. Spy gadgets. Spy agencies. Jam doughnuts. What more could you want?

I hope you guys like this new little feature! If there is anything you think I could add/remove from it - please comment down below! 

Have you read any of these? What did you think?