Suitors and Sabotage

Suitors and Sabotage by Cindy Anstey

So here at MysteriousEats.wordpress.com I wouldn’t call us lazy, but if my older sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife.wordpress.com has already reviewed or posted something, we just copy and paste it minus the Austen-y things as we concentrate more on the mystery.

So, my sister blog reviewed this mystery and I’ll be honest, I just copied and pasted it with a few deletes. If you want to read the whole post, you can hop over there. Otherwise, check this out.

Gracebridge Manor in Fotheringham, Kent -1817

Miss Imogene Chively has returned from her London season a success, or so her family believes. Imogene did not enjoy the parties, being on display, etc.

Hopefully, she will not have to go back as she has a suitor- a Mr. Ernest Steeple. He’s very, very interested in her and about to visit and stay a few weeks. Imogene is a very shy and not looking forward to him coming, but at least she will be home.

She an her friend Miss Emily Beeswanger (what a name!) are relaxing outside the ruins of the nearby castle, when Imogene’s dog puts himself in danger. They try to get him back, but he won’t listen! But in the end they are assisted by a handsome young man.

Hmm…

After he saves their dog, the man introduces himself as Benjamin “Ben” Steeple, the younger brother of Ernest. He has accompanied him, and the two arrived early. Mr. Chively, Imogene’s father, is monopolizing Ernest, so Ben decided to check out the castle ruins. Ben is studying to be an architect and could not pass up the opportunity to check it out.

Benjamin joins the ladies for a picnic and Emily sets her cap for the charming, flirtatious, dashing man. Emily went with Imogene for the London season, but did not have anyone interested in her. She’s feeling like a failure and this handsome man seems to be the answer to her wish to be married.

Or him

Imogene’s dog, Jasper, takes off into the old ruins, again, and Ben helps save him for Imogene. They end up bringing part of the castle down and destroying their clothes in the process (not like they are naked bit that those clothes can never be fixed to be in their previous condition ever again). Ben goes to change before dinner and encourage his brother. Ernest is over the moon about Imogene but feels disheartened as he is trying to spend time with her, but has only been spending time with the dad. He’s worried he won’t have anything to converse with her, so Ben tells him to talk about the artist, Joseph Mallard William Turner.

Ben tells Mr. Chively that Ernest likes economics and Mr. Chively spends the whole night talking his ear off about banking and interest. Ben, however, spends the night talking to Imogene and Emily and enjoys conversing with both women. He’s a major flirt and loves charming the ladies.

Imogene finds herself feeling uncertain as she is in a place she has never been before. She knows that Ernest likes her…but all this attention-could Ben have feelings for her too? Are two brothers fighting over her? But then Emily points out all the attention Ben has been giving her and the way he has been treating her. Could this be worse than she thought, could he like both Imogene and Emily?

 

After the two talk, Imogene becomes convinced that Ben is just flirting and charming both of them. Imogene is a little saddened at that, but Emily will not give up. She wants Ben and practices her best flirtations in order to win his heart.

The next morning, Ernest is taken off by Imogene’s father to go fishing, while Ben gets to spend the morning with her. He is doing his best to extol his brother’s virtues, but finds himself holding her hands longer than necessary and thinking more about her than his brother.

I know, right?

Wow, Ben, really? Your brother’s girl! You know he’s into her. And he’s your BROTHER!!!!!

Besides the Beeswanger family, and the Steeples, the Tabards are also staying with the Chivelys. Mrs. Chively, Mrs. Beeswanger, and Mrs. Tabard were very close friends, and relatives. Mrs. Tabard passed away and since then Mr. Tabard has been a ghost of the man he once was. His son Jake has become an incorrigible prankster-pairing up with Imogene’s older brother Percy.

Ugh

So Imogene finds herself in a quandry, on one hand-Ben makes her feel special as her family doesn’t care about art and he loves her drawings and wants her to give him lessons as he can’t draw!

Squeal!

But then she and Ernest finally have a chance to spend time together. Ernest tries to talk about art, but can’t. He admits he knows little of painting and that he is a…reader. Not of poems or essays…but…literature. 

Squeal!

Imogene finds herself falling for Ernest and Ben, but she can’t have both so which brother will she choose?

But before Imogene’s heart can tell her the path to take-some strange things start happening. Her jewelry is found in Ben’s room, then a burr is under his saddle and almost kills him, the castle starts falling down as well, and more. Someone is after Ben, but who?

 

To further complicate this midsummer nights comedy of errors; Ernest and Ben both like Imogene, Emily likes Ben, Jake seems to be interested in Emily, and Imogene doesn’t know which man she wants.

Here we go again…

And who is doing all these mysterious things? Could it be Percy or Jake, taking their “jokes” too far? Could it be Emily, who is after Ben-maybe trying to dissuade him from Imogene? Or could it be Ernest who wants to take Ben out of the running for Imogene’s heart?

Thoughts After Reading:

This book was pretty enjoyable for the most part. I thought the beginning and middle were really good. The parts that kind of turned me off was when the story began to drag on with the constant back and forth of Imogene trying to decide on a guy.

It really bothered me too how both men laughed off Imogene’s fear. I mean come on guys, there is too much happening for it be an “accident”. Seriously dudes.

There is also a weird part when Imogene accuses Ernest of doing all these things to Ben and Ben becomes furious. She is in shock about how “unreasonable” he is and hopes to never see that “unreasonable” side again. Ugh, girl please-you just accused his brother of trying to kill him. If someone said that to me about my sister I would have flipped a table at them. How dare you!!!

But really, whether you will love or hate this book will boil down to one thing-which guy you like better.

For more historical fiction, go to Weak Flesh

For more young adult mysteries, go to Airhead

For more not-in-a-series-mysteries, go to An Anonymous Girl

For more stolen jewels, go to Archie Andrews: Not So Private Eye

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Airhead

Airhead (Airhead #1) by Meg Cabot

Emerson “Em” Watts is not what most would consider beautiful. She never wears makeup, prefers oversized-ratty clothes, is a total tomboy into sports and gaming, etc.

She is in love with her equally nerdy, but drop dead handsome best friend, Chris-but is unsure how to have him see her as more than just a friend or one of the boys.

She, Chris, and her little sister Frida (fashion queen), are going to SoHo Stark Megastore grand opening, as Frida can’t go by herself and has to see her crush, singer Gabriel Luna.

Him

When they get there, the face of Stark-Nikki Howard, collpses and so does Em.

When Em wakes up she finds that she no longer exists. Instead her brain was transplanted into the body of Nikki Howard and she is now expected to take on the role of the beautiful model.

Her parents agreed to the brain swap as it was the only way to save her daughter, and now she and the rest of the family are sworn to secrecy.

Em thinks it will be easy to be Nikki, but discovers being a model is more than just standing around and looking pretty-her beauty regimen, endless publicity events, fake relationship with Brandon Stark, the hots for Gabriel Luna and Chris, and actual modeling is a lot of hard work.

But even more than that, Em discovers that Nikki’s “brain aneurysm” was no accident. Someone wanted her dead as she has stumbled onto a secret that those would kill to keep from coming out in the open. Will Em discover the truth in time? Or will Nikki Howard “die” again?

Thoughts After Reading:

So this book had a few campy parts, but otherwise it was etralling and I had to keep reading to find out who was behind the murder plot and why!

For more model mysteries, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more Young Adult Books, go to Crash Landing!

Secrets

Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

As a kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know these weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, and sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in miniseries, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes, as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, had supernatural elements, psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog. So we get to review them!

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files where you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last book Double Love, the sisters competed for the same guy, Todd Wilkins. Todd really liked Elizabeth, but Jessica did all she could to stop the romance. A bunch of other stuff also happens with the football field being involved in a big tug-of-war between companies, Elizabeth and Jessica afraid their dad is having an affair, Elizabeth and Jessica’s brother dating a girl from the wrong side of town, Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth and damaging her reputation, dances/parties, etc.

This book picks up after Elizabeth played a trick on Jessica, getting her dunked fully clothed. So here is where our story begins…

SECRETS

It wasn’t fair, Jessica raged, tears streaming down her face. Enid was going to the fall dance with Ronnie, and she was sure to be named queen. Ronnie was so blind with love that he’d swing a million votes her way.

Jessica sighed. She just had to win. If she were queen, Bruce Patman would finally notice her. She’d never wanted anything so badly in her entire life. She’d do anything to make it happen.

Out of the corner of one wet eye, Jessica glimpsed a piece of paper sticking out from under the bed. It looked like a letter.

Dear Enid,” she read with a sudden voracious interest. A smile crept slowly across her features as a plan shaped itself in her mind.

Time to put my evil plan in motion…

Jessica is mad that her sister got one over on her and had her dunked in front of everyone. But she doesn’t think on it too long as she has something more weighty on her mind. She has been in love with Bruce Patman for years but he never paid attention to her. She has watched him go through every A-list girl except herself! Her latest attempt to snag him is to win Fall Queen, as Bruce is nominated Fall King. If the two are crowned, they will have to go to the following dances and school activities together-and he will fall madly in love with her.

The dance is two weeks away and Jessica can’t wait!

I’m so excited!

Elizabeth has noticed that her best friend Enid Rollins has been so down lately. The decide to do a marathon baking session to cheer her up-but no dice. Finally Elizabeth just asks her and Enid unloads. Enid has a secret-a big secret. She has a police record.

When her parents divorced two years ago, she got involved in drinking and drugs. She and her boyfriend, George Warren, hit a boy while driving. The kid turned out to be okay-but the two were arrested, given 6 months probation, and put through drug counseling. Enid was changed by it and George was sent away to a private boarding school.

Enid is worried about her boyfriend Ronnie Edwards finding out. He said a lot of stuff in the last book that makes Enid certain that if he discovered her secret he’d dump her right away.

In my open she would be much better without him. He’s a rude, jerky, jealous, control freak, and abusive.

Enid has been writing to her friend George these past years and is afraid that Ronnie will see it as cheating on him. She shows the letters to Elizabeth, but it is nothing more than average friend encouragement and support. Elizabeth promises to keep the letters a complete secret.

Meanwhile, Jessica and her friends are talking about Ms. Dalton the French teacher. Jessica’s best friend Lila Fowler hates Ms. Dalton as not only is her father dating the 25-year-old teacher (really? 25), but her boyfriend, Ken Matthews, has a giant crush on her. She starts a rumor that Ms. Dalton and him are having an affair.

Jessica returns home later in a bad mood. She tried to charm Bruce Patman-but received nothing. She wants to hang out with her sister-but she’s gone again off with Enid. Enid who hates Jessica. She starts thinking of everything that is wrong and goes in her sister’s room-as her’s is painted an ugly brown (bad idea by Jessica) and too messy (she hates cleaning). As she sits there she spots a letter, and a terrible, awful idea is born.

Later Enid, Ronnie, Elizabeth, and Todd are double dating when Elizabeth and Todd notice something is off with Ronnie. The couples split ways with Enid and Ronnie heading to the classic make-out spot. Ronnie acts totally different and all over Enid-and then breaks their date to the dance.

When he tries to go farther than Enid wants, she manages to get loose-but then it all comes out. Ronnie knows all about George and her past.

“The letters. Liz must have told him about the letters.”

Jessica leaves for a party at Lila’s hoping to snag Bruce Patman there. Elizabeth calls up Enid, but she won’t have anything to do with her. Elizabeth stays home wallowing in confusion, while Jessica heads out.

Jessica is super disappointed to find out Bruce already has a date to the dance and puts her eyes on now dateless Ronnie.

Elizabeth confronts the question of how this could have happened, discussing it with her favorite teacher-Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins tells her to look for the key thing-motivation. Why would anyone want to do this? Break up Enid and Ronnie?

Hmmm…

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what the twins wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica goes to Lila’s party-but imagine in burgundy:

The dance: I see Jessica in this…

And Elizabeth in this:

Thoughts After Reading:

As a teen I loved it! From beginning to end. As an adult, I still enjoyed it-good pacing and the better writing than later books in the series.

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Just then Bruce sailed past, nearly colliding with her as she stumbled backward in an attempt to escape Winston’s murderous feet. He swept her with a long look that sent an electric shock tingling up her spine. There was a hint of invitation in his smile, and more than a spark of interest in his sexy blue eyes. Some of her misery faded. Could it be?…

Can Jessica play Bruce Patman’s game and win? Find out in SWEET VALLEY HIGH #3, Playing With Fire.

Of course we won’t because that isn’t a mystery. I don’t think I will be reviewing anything until book #13, Kidnapped. When I get there I’ll do a quick recap-and then continue.

For more young adult fiction, go to Christina’s Ghost

For more books were letters play a key role, go to This Pen for Hire

Spring Breakdown

So first of all, Happy First Day of Spring!

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Now on to the review:

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Spring Breakdown (Carter House Girls #7) by Melody Carlson

Thoughts Before Reading:

So this is a part of the series The Carter House Girls. Part Gossip Girl, part America’s Next Top Model, and all blended together with Christianity.

Each book is written like television episodes as every one gives more events of the group along with ending on just the right amount of cliffhanger so that you have a desire to read more and find out what happens next.

After D.J.’s mom died, she was sent to live with her grandmother, a famous ’60s fashion model Katherine Carter. Miss Carter decided to take this further and open her house up to five other girls and teach them about fashion, modeling, and more.

There is Taylor, daughter of singer Eva, beautiful, troubled, and very catty; Eliza, southern gal from Kentucky who wants to be the queen bee; Kriti, Indian, petite, and from New York; Cassie, D.J.’s old best friend from California who has been through a lot of changes and trouble; and Rhiannon, the only local, a nice girl, who’s mother is in rehab and the only Christian.

These girls have to work together, survive high school, model training, car accidents, disappearances, high school politics, boyfriend stealing, car accidents, parties, Las Vegas, New York City, an internet smear campaign, and more! Will the girls grow closer together? Or farther apart? Will they come to understand God’s love? Will they make good decisions?

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Plot Synopsis:

In this book the Carter House Girls have been in for some power plays between the now Christian Taylor and the ever in need of the limelight, Eliza. On Taylor’s side she has D.J.  and Rhiannon; Eliza on the other hand has Cassie while Kriti has returned to New York.

The trip started out as a nice fun time in Palm Beach, but became a fashion shoot, and even escalates when Harry (Eliza’s ex-boyfriend who is now interested in Taylor) decides to rent a condo nearby with his best guy friends.

Eliza keeps trying to win a competition only she sees, from pitting herself and Cassie against the others, trying to out glam them with tans that go horribly awry and more.

But things get really crazy when Eliza takes off on a date. When she doesn’t come back, they begin to grow worried.

They question Casey but she doesn’t know anything about this guy. That begins to worry the girls even more.

The talk to security, but they aren’t much help. They then call the FBI. All the girls can do is pray in the hopes that they find Eliza before it is too late.

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As the girls talk about who could have done this, they remember a lothario on the plane who seemed very interested in them and their plans.

But before they can tell the FBI about the mystery man, they get a ransom demand. Give him the money or the heiress dies.

Will their prayers be answered or will Eliza be lost forever?

Thoughts After Reading:

So this is the second to last book in the series and it takes a drastic turn from being about these girls to be a mystery and kidnapping, full of drama.

I thought that it was pretty good. One has to read the rest of the series to understand what is happening with the characters, but otherwise this was a fun story that had a twist I wasn’t originally expecting.

For more Young Adult novels, go to Fangs But No Fangs

For more Christian books, go to Paper Roses

For more book reviews, go to Death Threads

Fangs But No Fangs

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Fangs But No Fangs by Sholly Fisch

Fangs But No Fangs is a graphic novel and a collection of “minute mysteries”, short mysteries that are, typically, easily solvable.

Read it today!

Read it today!

Mystery #1: The gang is threatened by a vampire, Count Hemoglobin, in a Haunted House. Fred doesn’t believe he is actually one. How does he know?

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Mystery #2Shaggy is attacked by a skunk and Velma shares the story of Aniwye, a giant skunk that hunts people.

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Mystery #3At a museum one of the portrait’s ghost comes out scaring everyone. When people come back to the museum they discover the painting is stolen. Daphne thinks it is the owner of the museum who stole it, how does she know?

ghost

Mystery 4: Fred is competing in a mini-gold tournament but is distracted by a recent theft of pearls. Meanwhile a werewolf or golf-wolf is attacking the park trying to shut down the tournament. The mystery gang is on the case.

from janeaustenrunsmyife.wordpress.com

from janeaustenrunsmyife.wordpress.com

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was a cute children’s book with easily solvable, fun mysteries.

likeit

Good choice for any kid you know who is a mystery or Scooby-Doo fan.

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For more young adult books, go to The Princess Plot

For more on vampires, go to Grave Peril

For more werewolves, go to Fool Moon

For more mysteries, go to Bloom and Doom

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The Princess Plot

Princess Plot

The Princess Plot (Scandia #1) by Kristen Boie

Jenna is an average girl. She goes to school, comes home, and hangs out at her best friend’s house. The only thing that sets her apart os the fact that her mother is extremely protective. She hardly ever lets her do anything or go anywhere.

I never get to do anything fun.

I never get to do anything fun.

One day, Jenna and her best friend are approached by a man handing out fliers. His company is making a princess movie and need someone to fill a secondary part. He gives them the fliers and hopes that they will come to the auditions.

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On one hand Jenna really to try out, but on the other: she knows her mother would be dead set against it. After a lot of hemming and hawing, she decides to go for it. When she arrives at the audition, she turns in her backpack and phone to the coat check and waits in line. With so many other beautiful girls there, Jenna is convinced she won’t be chosen.

I never get to do anything fun.

To her surprise, Jenna is picked and asked to immediately fly out to the country of Scandia, the place where the movie will be filmed.

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Jenna tries to turn them down, as she knows her mother will say no way, but it turns out they already spoke to her mother and was given approval. They return her phone with a text from her mother, telling her it is okay and that she hopes she has fun. Texting will be the only way they will be able to communicate from now on as they have limited satellites.

Very suspicious

Very suspicious

Jenna is quickly whisked away to a castle in Scandia where she discoverd everything has been a huge, fat, lie.

What?

It turns out that there is no movie.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

Instead the crown princess is very ill and can’t make any public appearances. Her father just died, and her uncle has been named Regent. They all thought that not having the princess around might look as if the regent is taking over or give credence to the rumors that he murdered/kidnapped the king. So on they went to find a girl that closely resembles the princess, enough that with a few minor changes, no one would think it wasn’t her.

perfectplan

At first Jenna goes along but then finds things weirder. No one will talk about the princess. Her phone can’t send messages to anyone other than her mom. And the Regent acts very weird around her. It unsettles her more and more.

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She overhears that the princess is not missing, but has run away. She then goes on to discover that she is to be here indefinitely, her mother has no idea where she is, and that the country is in the midst of a rebellion. What’s a girl to do?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I have to admit this was waaaay better than I thought it would be.

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It had a great plot and doesn’t fall into the usual young adult cliches.

fantastic

It was also nice to read a YA novel that isn’t all about finding a boyfriend, but one of espionage, rebels,  inequality, etc.

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The only thing I didn’t like about this book, was how dense Jenna was. Really? You think your super protective mom who doesn’t let you spend the night at a friend’s house, someone you’ve known all your life; and you actually believe she will let you go to an entirely different country with strangers?

I don't think so.

I don’t think so.

And you don’t find it odd that you can never talk to your mom? And that she didn’t call to say good-bye?

Very suspicious

Very suspicious

Otherwise it was a pretty good YA book.

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For more young adult mysteries, go to The Dollhouse Murders

For more reviews, go to Blueberry Muffin Murder

 

The Dollhouse Murders

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The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

So unlike most people who have read this book, I didn’t read this as a child but as an adult. This book was recommended to me on goodreads quite a few times. The first time I saw it I thought it was a book I had read as a child of a girl playing with dolls, and in essence whatever she makes the dolls do, happens in real life. In that book she continues to play rough with her dolls, making them cruel to each other, and in doing so turns the people she loves into monsters.

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She eventually realizes this and tries to destroy the dollhouse, being stopped by her mom or aunt (I don’t remember which) who gives it away to her cousin.

This was not that book.

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Yes this is a completely different book, as I discovered once I read the synopsis.

So this book was published in the early ’80s and definitely has that nostalgic feel. The girls are out wherever they want and their parents don’t care as long as they are back before dark. They listen to tapes, watch TV from the cable shows and have a sleepover that involves hanging out, telling fortunes, gossiping, etc. No internet, cellphones, snapchat, instagram, etc.

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So our main character is 12-year old Amy. Amy lives in a suburb of Chicago, (and no this is not a John Hughes movie), with her parents and her younger, mentally disabled, sister Louann. Amy is stressed and unhappy about always having to take care of Louann. It has destroyed friendships, as some girls feel uncomfortable around Louann or dislike her differences; either way Amy finds herself losing potential friends and just having to spend more time with Louann.

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She and her new friend Ellen have to take Louann with them to mall, and it doesn’t turn out well. After Louann runs away, destroys a floral arrangement, and gets the girls yelled at; coupled with Amy’s new friend Ellen canceling their plans (presumably because of Louann), Amy’s had it with her sister.

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She needs some freedom from being Louann’s keeper. When she tells her mom this, the two get in a fight and Amy runs away. She runs all the way to the edge of town where her Aunt Clare currently lives.

Aunt Clare is her father’s sister, and was living and working in Chicago. When she was fired from her job, she returned home to clean out her grandparents’ old house to sell it. She listens to Amy’s views and asks her parents if she can stay for a while and keep her company. They agree, but Louann is unhappy to lose Amy.

Amy is estatic to finally have freedom

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But discovers something unsettling about the house. It feels as if it has a dark cloud over it.

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Amy discovers a beautiful dollhouse in the attic. And when she asks Aunt Clare about it, she gets the family backstory.

When Clare was 15 and Amy’s father was 2, their parents died in a car crash. The two were sent to live with their grandparents, as they had money and lots of room. Amy’s father did all right, but Clare was constantly clashing with the grandparents. She wanted to be treated as an adult, but they wanted her to stay a child. Hence, they gave a fifteen year old a dollhouse. An exquisitely carved dollhouse that is a replica of the house, has miniature everything you could ever hope for, and has four dolls that are beautiful copies of the family members. Even still, it is a dollhouse and for Clare it was uncool. Three years later, the grandparents also died in a car accident, and the two kids were sent to live with an uncle. As soon as Clare graduated, she left for Chicago and hasn’t returned to the house since.

Amy is intrigued and wants to know more, but Clare does not want to discuss the house at all, becoming very upset over the whole thing.

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Ellen is soon invited over and loves the dollhouse as much as Amy does. The two play with it for a while, interrupted by Clare’s baking of fudge. They run down to the kitchen, with Amy realizing that she left the house open. Not wanting it to get dusty on the inside, she runs upstairs. When she gets there, she sees something shocking.

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The grandma doll isn’t where she left it, but in a entirely different room!

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She is called by Ellen and Clare, and shakes off that idea. Dolls moving? Must have been seeing things.

The three of them end up planning a pizza-birthday party for the two girls, as they turn 13 within a week of each other.

After Ellen leaves, Amy asks Clare more questions about the grandparents’ death. Clare however, becomes angry and defensive not answering anything.

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This causes Amy to decide to do some digging of her own. She and Ellen head to the library and start looking through old papers to discover what happened to her grandparents. When they are searching they find an article about them being murdered!

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Yes Clare lied! They were murdered!

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One night, Clare returned home from the movies and discovered the dead bodies of her grandfather and grandmother. Both were shot, the grandfather upstairs in his bedroom, and the grandmother in the parlor. Amy’s father was initially not found, and many believed him to have been kidnapped, until they discovered the five-year-old asleep in the closet. Valuables were stolen, so the cops believed it was a burglary gone wrong. They never caught the killer.

Another interesting tidbit Amy finds, is that Clare’s boyfriend of the time, Tom, was killed that night as well in a car accident.

Whoa

That night Amy calls Ellen and fills her in. Unfortunately, Clare hears her and becomes very angry, yelling at Amy for her insensitivity. Later Clare yells at Amy again, as she has discovered the dolls in the exact way her family members were on the night of the murder.

Amy is flabbergasted.

What?

She knows she and Ellen put the dolls in the dining room around the table. Besides, she just learned about the murders, there would have been no way she could have made it into the attic and do that. That means…

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THE DOLLS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES!

Crap

The only question? Why.

Amy and Clare make up, but Amy is now frightened of the attic and does all she can to stay out.

Amy goes home to get a few things for the party, when it is accidentally is slipped and now Louanne wants to come too. Amy doesn’t want her to come as she wants a day focused on her, and she doesn’t want to worry about anyone. She gets into another fight with her mom.

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At Aunt Clare’s, they start getting things ready for the party. Clare sends Amy upstairs to the attic to get some bedding so Ellen can stay over. The light went out so Clare gives Amy a flashlight.

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Upstairs, Amy goes to get a blanket when she sees a light coming from the attic and hears something!

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And runs downstairs.

The next day is the day of the party. Evey thing seems to be going smoothly, until Amy finds out that her mother had to go out of town and couldn’t find a sitter, so she left Louann at Aunt Clare’s. Amy is furious, as she knows Louann will ruin the party. To her surprise everything turns out perfect. All the girls have fun, they treat Louann like any other normal person; with the party going on for hours. That night the girls go to bed, with Louann and Amy sharing a room.

Amy wakes up at 3 in the morning and discovers Louann missing!

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She runs up the attic, as she knows Louann loves the dollhouse. When she gets there she finds Louann, a weird light coming from the dollhouse, and hears someone crying. So does Louann. Amy gets scared and the two go back to their room.

The next day, all three girls go for a hike with Amy telling Ellen everything that happened. She resolves to go up to the attic this very night and watching the whole event, in the hopes that she might discover why this is happening.

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Thoughts after reading:

This was a very cute and interesting mystery. At first I wasn’t sure as young adult fiction can really be hit or miss.

I loved the character of Amy as I think the author not only accurately portrayed a preteen girl, but a preteen girl having to take care of her disabled sister. It didn’t make Amy seem evil, rude; but just a regular girl trying to figure out her identity and who she is.

The mystery was actually pretty thrilling as the author keeps you guessing until the end. When the true story was revealed about the death of the grandparents, it made me wonder…was Aunt Clare involved with the murder? Was that the real reason she hated the dollhouse? You have to read it to find out.

I highly recommend this book for preteens and even for adults if you are feeling nostalgic.

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For more reviews of mystery novels, go to Lane Changes