The Competition by Cecily Wolfe
This story about a hundred high school juniors competing in a writing contest at a small college is well written. What the Penultimate means for each of the four main characters, Mary Sofia, Camara, Michael and Jaeden, is clearly explored and made them real. We follow each of them and their friends, especially Julia and Jada, through the ride to the college, their meeting there, the tour of the school, and then the three prompted writing assignments. The last one, prompted by the theme of a turning point in their lives, leads to regrets as they think about what they each wrote. I occasionally didn’t know who was speaking because of the way dialogue was presented, but that didn’t detract from the themes of the story. Titling the story The Penultimate might have differentiated this book from others with the title The Competition.
Cream Buns and Crime by Robin Stevens
As noted on the cover, this is a collection of tips, tricks and tales from the Detective Society that Daisy Wells and Hazel Wang formed at Deepdean School for Girls. It also contains a few of the cases solved by their friends, the Junior Pinkertons, i.e., Alexander Arcady and George Mukherjee at Weston School. It’s full of the same kinds of fun as the Murder Most Unladylike series, and complements it by giving us a better chance to ‘hear’ Daisy, Alex, and George’s voices. There’s also an awful lot about detective and spy novels with lists from the author, Daisy and George. Very well done. I’m looking forward to reading the next full-length murder mystery in the series.