Book Review: Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter

Title: Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor
Author: Ally Carter
Genre: MG Mystery
Page Count: 336 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 3, 2020

Publisher’s Summary: April didn’t mean to start the fire. She wasn’t the one who broke the vase. April didn’t ask to go live in a big, creepy mansion with a bunch of orphans who just don’t understand that April isn’t like them. After all, April’s mother is coming back for her someday very soon.

All April has to do is find the clues her mother left inside the massive mansion. But Winterborne House is hiding more than one secret, so April and her friends are going to have to work together to unravel the riddle of a missing heir, a creepy legend, and a mysterious key before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever.

My Thoughts: April is an orphan with nothing but a mysterious key and the sadly misguided conviction that the mother who abandoned her long ago intends to eventually come back for her. When April accidentally sets a museum on fire trying to find the lock for her key, she’s sent to live with her new foster family at the Winterborne mansion. There she learns the mystery of the missing heir, Gabriel Winterborne, and begins to wonder if the old mansion is haunted. April makes new friends – and enemies – at the Winterborne House, all the while driven by her determination to find the key to her mother’s lock.  

Winterborne Home… is classic Ally Carter, complete with a team of kids with extreme skills, witty writing, mystery, high-stakes danger and adventure. I was unhappy, though, that it ended on a cliffhanger without solving one of the story’s central mysteries. I hope not too much time passes before the release of Book 2.  

Book Review: Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

ellenEllen Foster is a little girl in the 1960s who is neglected by her parents. She goes from family member to family member, each as cold and unreceptive as the next. All the while, Ellen retains her toughness, yet longs to live in a happy foster home. While the novel consists of her memories of suffering through different, unpleasant Dursley-esque living situations, every few chapters jumps back to the present time, where we can see that Ellen is now at peace and cared for in a foster home. This novel translated very well on-screen as a Hallmark TV movie.