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The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow

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You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store! Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK C You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store! Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villians to justice… Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Wilson, Chris Riddell and Enid Blyton.


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You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store! Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK C You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of Sinclair’s department store! Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and MYSTERIES around every corner. WONDER at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! TREMBLE as the most DASTARDLY criminals in London enact their wicked plans! GASP as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, CRACK CODES, DEVOUR ICED BUNS and vow to bring the villians to justice… Perfect for fans of Jacqueline Wilson, Chris Riddell and Enid Blyton.

30 review for The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stacey (prettybooks)

    This is a review of both The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, but does not contain spoilers about either. I'm a big fan of middle grade mysteries, so The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow was pretty high on my TBR. I've always enjoyed ornate department stores. I love taking my time, carefully discovering the delights each floor has to offer (I must admit, the food hall is a firm favourite). Sinclair's, a luxury department store in London's Piccadilly, is the p This is a review of both The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth, but does not contain spoilers about either. I'm a big fan of middle grade mysteries, so The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow was pretty high on my TBR. I've always enjoyed ornate department stores. I love taking my time, carefully discovering the delights each floor has to offer (I must admit, the food hall is a firm favourite). Sinclair's, a luxury department store in London's Piccadilly, is the perfect setting for Sophie Taylor's story. Sophie is an orphan and young employee at Sinclair's, determined to track down the violent thief who's stolen a priceless clockwork sparrow from the store. But an even bigger mystery emerges while on her adventures, accompanied by new best friends Lillian, Billy and Joe. And The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth takes us out of the extravagance that is Sinclair's and onto the impoverished and grimy streets of early 1900s East End of London, where danger lurks around every corner – particularly the formidable Baron's Boys, villains we're introduced to in the first book. Katherine Woodfine's series is an utter delight, with its intricate Edwardian setting and colourful characters. I loved devouring stories of bonbons and iced buns, beautiful dresses and hats - and even the rich, snobby customers! The incredible setting mixed with our brave and intelligent protagonists make for two marvellous stories. I loved accompanying Sophie and Lil as they cracked codes, duped debutantes, and solved conundrums, secrets and puzzles - not bad for a day's work! And we meet many more lovable – and even odious – characters along the way. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow series is perfect for fans of Enid Blyton and Murder Most Unladylike. Stay tuned for The Mystery of the Painted Dragon – I'm looking forward to spending more time at Sinclair's! I also reviewed this book over on Pretty Books.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robin Stevens

    This is a delicious cross between Philip Pullman's Sally Lockheart series and Mr Selfridge, a warm, fun and extremely mysterious book that sweeps you up into a glittering world of department-store marvels. Full of history, mystery and plenty of BUNS.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Annet

    You are cordially invited to attend the grand opening of Sinclair's department store... a splendid adventure awaits you.... This is just a really delightful book to read. For children/YA, but I thought I'd take a trip back to memory lane, this being the type of book I loved to read as a kid. Being a big fan of Edith Blyton's 'Five' (have to reread!). This book was recommended to me in Waterstone's, but I doubted and left it in the store. Next visit, I just couldn't resist it. Cover is really c You are cordially invited to attend the grand opening of Sinclair's department store... a splendid adventure awaits you.... This is just a really delightful book to read. For children/YA, but I thought I'd take a trip back to memory lane, this being the type of book I loved to read as a kid. Being a big fan of Edith Blyton's 'Five' (have to reread!). This book was recommended to me in Waterstone's, but I doubted and left it in the store. Next visit, I just couldn't resist it. Cover is really cute, story is really cute, something different from the rather 'dark' stories I tend to read ;-). It's about the opening of a big luxurious department store, Sinclair's, at Piccadilly Circus, back in 'those days'. We witness young ladies Sophie and Lil, and youngsters Joe and Billy out and about to discover the mystery of the clockwork sparrow. A fun story if you're in for something light and youthful character!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    I read the first few chapters as a read aloud. It was a nice enough mystery involving a department store. Had we continued, I don't think this would have rated anymore than a 3 star for either of us so we gave up to move on to (hopefully) higher rating reads. I think this woukd make a good book for children to read to themselves, a good school library choice, not too challenging.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    3.5 STARS The story excels in its descriptions of the fictitious Sinclair's Department Store in London (based on Selfridge's Dept. Store, right down to the enigmatic, charismatic pop-star of an owner) but it failed to be a captivating mystery. Most of the clues were dropped on one page, only to be solved swiftly and miraculously by one of the characters on the very next page, leaving very little for the reader to try to puzzle out. And though a few of the "big reveals" were surprises to me, it wa 3.5 STARS The story excels in its descriptions of the fictitious Sinclair's Department Store in London (based on Selfridge's Dept. Store, right down to the enigmatic, charismatic pop-star of an owner) but it failed to be a captivating mystery. Most of the clues were dropped on one page, only to be solved swiftly and miraculously by one of the characters on the very next page, leaving very little for the reader to try to puzzle out. And though a few of the "big reveals" were surprises to me, it was of the maddening sort because we had no clues about them in the first place. (I'm thinking compared to some of the masters, like Christie, where you have the "OMG!" moment then look back and realize all the genius clues that had been sprinkled along the way that you had utterly missed.) I also felt it was a little too easy for a bunch of adolescents to defeat one of England's criminal masterminds. The characters also ended up falling a little flat for me; I thought Sophie would be our main protagonist but I never felt we got settled enough with her before we began jumping focus to friends Joe, Billy and Lil. I suppose that having some POVs from the boy characters might make this more appealing to both male and female audiences, but none of the characters felt developed enough to feel real. I did enjoy my virtual visit to Sinclair's via the lovely descriptions, and the story had its moments, but overall I wasn't as diverted or absorbed as I had hoped to be and don't think I will continue with the series.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amélie Boucher

    3.5 stars A solid start to the series! While it isn't a new favorite, I did quite enjoy it. I'm absolutely in love with the setting. The story is set in the early 1900s in a department store in London, and I loved how atmospheric the writing was. I could feel as if I was in London with the characters. I also quite like our main characters. While the group is quite eclectic, I found myself quite enjoying reading from their perspective. My personal favorites are Lilian (aka a QUEEN) and Billy. Howe 3.5 stars A solid start to the series! While it isn't a new favorite, I did quite enjoy it. I'm absolutely in love with the setting. The story is set in the early 1900s in a department store in London, and I loved how atmospheric the writing was. I could feel as if I was in London with the characters. I also quite like our main characters. While the group is quite eclectic, I found myself quite enjoying reading from their perspective. My personal favorites are Lilian (aka a QUEEN) and Billy. However, I did feel like the mystery could have been better plotted. Some elements of the story were quite predictable and obvious. I just didn't find myself on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    So, this book. THIS BOOK. Seriously, possibly one of my biggest joys of the year so far. It reminded me of a London I always dreamed about. When I was very little my Grandma used to take me on days out in the West End, and we'd often end up in a fancy hotel or Harrods and she'd tell me about the London of her youth. I know that my grandma is definitely not old enough to remember London in the 1910s, and yet still, I was reminded of it. When Sophie first encounters Sinclairs, I remember first vis So, this book. THIS BOOK. Seriously, possibly one of my biggest joys of the year so far. It reminded me of a London I always dreamed about. When I was very little my Grandma used to take me on days out in the West End, and we'd often end up in a fancy hotel or Harrods and she'd tell me about the London of her youth. I know that my grandma is definitely not old enough to remember London in the 1910s, and yet still, I was reminded of it. When Sophie first encounters Sinclairs, I remember first visiting Harrods and my grandma letting me pick a chocolate - just one - from the chocolate hall. Never a more difficult decision has been made. How a book has managed to bring me back to this memory, I just don't know. Katherine Woodfine is a wonder. And as if that wasn't enough, I was also reminded of my time working at Waterstones Piccadilly - four years at a flagship bookstore, and at the very site that Sinclairs comes to be - there aren't many places that foster such a sense of pride in retail. I loved working at that shop, and this book took me that to that feeling too. One last thing I want to say - THE DESCRIPTIVE PARAGRAPHS WERE SO DELICIOUS I WANTED TO ACTUALLY EAT THEM. I should probably leave it there. I've already completely embarrassed myself fangirling over Katherine and I'm pretty sure that I'm not doing myself any favours. Loved this book, and can't wait for more!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maddie

    This book in one sentence? Nancy Drew in a department store.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katerina Kondrenko

    6.5 out of 10 It reminds me of my favorite children detectives from a old times. This book is nicely decorated and written, so if you want a piece of teen-ish mystery in historical colors - go ahead)

  10. 4 out of 5

    ღ Ruqs ღ

    This book is such an enjoyable book. The setting. The characters. The plot. EVERYTHING IS SO BEAUTIFUL. things I liked about it: it was really well-written the whole setting!! Sinclair’s department store is sooo lovely to read about! the characters (Sophie… and Lil!!) the plot (ahhh.. it will suck you right in) “I commend you on your efforts. Really I do. You have surprised me, and that does not happen very often.” Sophie Taylor is someone you can relate to from the beginning, and Lil (Lillian) Rose is This book is such an enjoyable book. The setting. The characters. The plot. EVERYTHING IS SO BEAUTIFUL. things I liked about it: it was really well-written the whole setting!! Sinclair’s department store is sooo lovely to read about! the characters (Sophie… and Lil!!) the plot (ahhh.. it will suck you right in) “I commend you on your efforts. Really I do. You have surprised me, and that does not happen very often.” Sophie Taylor is someone you can relate to from the beginning, and Lil (Lillian) Rose is a very likeable character too. “I’m going to be a fortune hunter!’ – Lil ‘I beg your pardon?’ – Sophie The plot will suck you right in from the very beginning. The characters and setting are well developed. The writing is beautiful. Also, for those of you who prefer books like this, it has hardly any romance. It is not often I am whirled into a gorgeously casted setting with a constantly spiralling plot engulfed with a lovely writing style. I have currently only read the first two books, I need to read The Painted Dragon (it’s even on my Kindle bookshelf, I don’t know why I haven’t read it yet) and The Midnight Peacock has just been released. This is definitely a series you want to be apart of!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Claire Huston

    This book is like a slice of perfect cake: light, fluffy, delicious and ideal to enjoy when curled up with a nice up of tea. I was lured towards this book by the delightful, gold-embossed cover. Inside, the story is also peppered with cute illustrations. And "cute" and "delightful" are good words for this story. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is what you get if you mash together Nancy Drew, The Famous Five, Sherlock Holmes and set the action in a glittering London department store at the s This book is like a slice of perfect cake: light, fluffy, delicious and ideal to enjoy when curled up with a nice up of tea. I was lured towards this book by the delightful, gold-embossed cover. Inside, the story is also peppered with cute illustrations. And "cute" and "delightful" are good words for this story. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is what you get if you mash together Nancy Drew, The Famous Five, Sherlock Holmes and set the action in a glittering London department store at the start of the twentieth century. Special mention to the illustrator Júlia Sardà - beautiful work. For the rest of my review, please visit my blog: https://clairehuston.wordpress.com/20...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    didn't love this as much as I wanted to but hopefully will prefer the rest of the series! https://youtu.be/1bfLLLLLeog didn't love this as much as I wanted to but hopefully will prefer the rest of the series! https://youtu.be/1bfLLLLLeog

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    I loved this book!! It was a great Victorian detective romp with two strong lead female characters - Sophie and Lil. If you like Mr Selfridge and The Paradise you will love this - it's set in a large London department store (Sinclair's) where the namesake's precious jewels are set to go on display in the grand Exhibition Hall for the opening night when Mr Edward Sinclair's priceless clockwork sparrow goes missing. It's up to our two heroines along with Billy, an apprentice porter, and Joe, a for I loved this book!! It was a great Victorian detective romp with two strong lead female characters - Sophie and Lil. If you like Mr Selfridge and The Paradise you will love this - it's set in a large London department store (Sinclair's) where the namesake's precious jewels are set to go on display in the grand Exhibition Hall for the opening night when Mr Edward Sinclair's priceless clockwork sparrow goes missing. It's up to our two heroines along with Billy, an apprentice porter, and Joe, a former East-End London gang member to retrieve the sparrow and save the day. Along the way, they meet some ruthless characters and there are lots of twists and turns which kept me guessing until the end; although I did figure out who the Baron's inside contact was before it was revealed. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable read with some lovely heroines who I will no doubt encounter again in The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amelia Talbot

    Sophie is working for Sinclair's and the big opening is coming up. All helping hands are needed. Everyone has been wanting for this. Sophie needs this job and she gets tangled up in a big clump of danger. Why would someone want to ruin the store when it seems that everyone can't wait? Sophie quickly makes friends and competes against the other snobby shop girls, who try to make he look bad at everything. But Sophie knows she can do it because she is a hard working independent woman. This is proba Sophie is working for Sinclair's and the big opening is coming up. All helping hands are needed. Everyone has been wanting for this. Sophie needs this job and she gets tangled up in a big clump of danger. Why would someone want to ruin the store when it seems that everyone can't wait? Sophie quickly makes friends and competes against the other snobby shop girls, who try to make he look bad at everything. But Sophie knows she can do it because she is a hard working independent woman. This is probably one of the best books I have ever read. I probably like it is so much because I love mystery books. I thought the beginning was kinda slow but that is with all books because you have to get into it. The author really brought out Sophie's personality as with all the characters. They all had their own unique personality and because of that some didn't get along or were more dedicated etc. Their personalities really made the book funny and interesting. This book is so intense I love it so so so much. I have a problem with stopping books right in the middle of them but I finished this book in 2 days tops. This is such a good book I haven't read the second yet but I am planing on it. I think the theme to this book is: Hard work holds you up. I think this because Sophie has a really hard time at the shop the first few days. Another shop girl named Edith thinks she is better than everyone else. And Sophie works as hard as she can to show the shop owner that she can do all the things Edith can do. But Edith trys to tear her down. since Sophie works hard she earned her fate.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    I have a number of thoughts about this book, some positive, some not so much. So here goes: 4 stars: -The adventure and developing friendship amongst Sophie and Lil, and Billy and Joe was well executed. I liked the way they came together and began supporting each other and relying on each others’ skills as they worked through the puzzling situation that resulted from the theft of the Clockwork Sparrow at Sinclair’s department store. -Also, the author does a wonderful job of describing Sinclair’s, I have a number of thoughts about this book, some positive, some not so much. So here goes: 4 stars: -The adventure and developing friendship amongst Sophie and Lil, and Billy and Joe was well executed. I liked the way they came together and began supporting each other and relying on each others’ skills as they worked through the puzzling situation that resulted from the theft of the Clockwork Sparrow at Sinclair’s department store. -Also, the author does a wonderful job of describing Sinclair’s, which feels like an analogue for Harrods or Selfridges. I could see the myriad goods and bustling staff hard at work. 3 stars: -I could figure one part of the mystery almost immediately, and kept yelling that the friends needed to pay attention to a particular character. -Also, the bulk of the mystery could not be solved without an info dump from the Big Bad. So, no, that didn’t work for me. 2 stars: -I was disappointed that the author didn’t use the time period and characters’ classes and economic reality to interrogate a number of the assumptions about the British Empire and life at that time in London for many of its residents. And before someone says that this is just meant to be a fun adventure-mystery (which it is), young people can be fairly sophisticated in understanding an analysis of culture, and there are countless missed opportunities to dissect London in the early 1900s. -Though the author has the police give Sophie the benefit of the doubt, I found it hard to believe that would have actually happened. It was a commonly held belief (actually still is) that people on the lower end of the social and economic scale were prone to criminal behaviour, and Sophie, thanks to no provision made for her on her father’s death, can no longer claim her place as a lady. It made no sense to me that the police didn’t just throw her in jail and close the case. -The author missed an opportunity to discuss Britain's colonial behaviour and the treatment of the people manufacturing the good selling at Sinclair's, whether they were English or residing in the colonies. The British Empire was still big when this story takes place, and so many of the textiles and luxuries people are buying in the story hail from Britain’s colonies, and were procured on the backs of brown bodies. -Also, where are all the people of colour in this author’s London? All sorts of people of colour had been living in London, for centuries by this point, and this feels like such a white story. Will I continue on with the series? I think I will, even with my misgivings, as I want to know if this series is meant to be just an adventure, or has some depth to it. So, a final rating for this story: 3 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    This was a fun and sweet book. A middle grade mystery in a charming setting with fun characters, I really enjoyed it. Initially I was planning to only read this first book, but by the end I was attached enough to the characters to seek out the second one. Sophie, Lil, Joe, and Billy are a very fun group of characters. I also really liked the setting and the descriptions of the store. The mystery itself wasn't really what captivated me, but I was curious to figure it out. I'm curious to see how the This was a fun and sweet book. A middle grade mystery in a charming setting with fun characters, I really enjoyed it. Initially I was planning to only read this first book, but by the end I was attached enough to the characters to seek out the second one. Sophie, Lil, Joe, and Billy are a very fun group of characters. I also really liked the setting and the descriptions of the store. The mystery itself wasn't really what captivated me, but I was curious to figure it out. I'm curious to see how the world expands in the future books. I'll at least give the next one a go. This is a very fun middle grade read with a wonderful atmosphere.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jada Coburn

    I think this book was really good. It takes place in 1909 and things were very different then. If you like a good mystery this book is for you!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Izzy Smith

    Stunning. Amazing. Brilliant. There are so many words to describe this book. It was funny, mysterious, and overall the best mystery book I've ever read! Has to be a five star!!!!!!!!!!!!!!😁

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rabiah

    **4.5 stars** Originally posted at: http://iliveforreading.blogspot.com/2... This book was part of the large stack that Pansing sent me. I’d never heard of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow before, but it sounded really intriguing so I decided to pick it up. This book was such a delight! I love historical-fiction and I love mystery–growing up I would be the kind of child that would read Enid Blyton books endlessly, so this was the perfect revival. It was like an amazing mashup of The Grand Buda **4.5 stars** Originally posted at: http://iliveforreading.blogspot.com/2... This book was part of the large stack that Pansing sent me. I’d never heard of The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow before, but it sounded really intriguing so I decided to pick it up. This book was such a delight! I love historical-fiction and I love mystery–growing up I would be the kind of child that would read Enid Blyton books endlessly, so this was the perfect revival. It was like an amazing mashup of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and The Five Find-Outers. I ended up reading this in one go, and stayed up pretty late to finish it. This book had the most beautiful descriptions, especially of Sinclair’s department store. I really felt like the store was truly magical, and I got pretty sad when I came back to reality knowing that there was no store like this that existed (that I know of anyway). This book often had my mouth watering as well, as the descriptions of food sounded extremely delicious. That’s how you know a book is well-written people: the food makes you want to run to the kitchen immediately only to find disappointment with the reality of food that cannot compare to the food in the book. ❝As [the crowd] swept past the doormen into an immense marble entrance hall, the first thing they noticed was the delicious smell, like bonbons on Christmas morning. The next was a magnificent fountain in which white-marble mermaids basked in a sea-green pool. The silvery tinkling of the water mingled with the tick of an enormous golden clock that stood against the wall.❞ –p. 71, ARC* *text is subject to change in the final version The characters were so great as well. They were slightly older than most middle grade characters, which made me enjoy this a lot more, knowing that the characters were closer to my age. Sophie’s character reminded me of Sara's from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I sympathized with her and felt bad for her when the other sales girls made fun of her. I was happy when she makes friends with Lil, another fabulous character, and Billy, whose devotion to her is absolutely adorable. There was such a great cast of characters and even the villains were created really well. The mystery was also gorgeously written–I didn’t know who was going to be guilty until near the end and the big reveal. The only problem for me was the motive behind the theft of the clockwork sparrow. I felt that there was just too big of a story at hand that suddenly comes in, with no previous mention of it in the text and suddenly there’s a whole plot involved that didn’t exist before. It all made sense, given the time period, but it just felt a bit too sudden for me, and I would have liked just a bit of a transition into it. Other than this, it was seriously well-done! A stunning debut, The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow captures the same tone of many of my dusty and well-loved childhood books but brings a fresh new voice to an audience of this day and age. Katherine Woodfine’s command of words is striking and will have readers guessing in this enchanting whodunit mystery until the very last page. ▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪

  20. 4 out of 5

    Suze Lavender

    Because of some bad luck Sophie has to find a job and that means her childhood is over all of a sudden. Fortunately she finds a position at Sinclair's, a department store. She wants to do well and she's pretty, so not every girl she's working with is friendly to her. When someone steals a precious artefact from the store Sophie has to find out what happened. It will be very important for her future. Fortunately she has friends she can count on who are helping her to find out more. The Mystery of Because of some bad luck Sophie has to find a job and that means her childhood is over all of a sudden. Fortunately she finds a position at Sinclair's, a department store. She wants to do well and she's pretty, so not every girl she's working with is friendly to her. When someone steals a precious artefact from the store Sophie has to find out what happened. It will be very important for her future. Fortunately she has friends she can count on who are helping her to find out more. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow is such a wonderful book. I couldn't put it down. I loved the old fashioned atmosphere and the main characters are all fantastic. Sophie is sweet and she's brave. The same goes for Billy, who's lovely. I kept having a big smile on my face when I was reading about his actions. The setting is fantastic. I could picture every department of the shop. Katherine Woodfine makes everything come to life really well. It's great that she pays attention to every little detail, which makes the story absolutely perfect. There are some beautiful drawings in the book. Because of them it's even more easy for the reader to feel the atmosphere. It was like I was in Sinclair's. I could almost touch the items in the shop. I really liked the mystery aspect of the story and was curious to see how things would develop. I couldn't stop reading and read this story in one sitting. I absolutely loved the ending, it's amazing. I think this book is very special.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

    I smell book series. I've had this title kicking around for awhile and finally picked it up. It was a good read, though the author gives herself away with the Boys of Empire thing. That's exactly what this is, a Biggles, Boy's Own Adventure serial story with a girl protagonist. But it made a mindless little popcorn read--crisp, light, airy and no substance at all. Very much along the lines of Wells and Wong. Set in the years immediately before WW1, what took a star from the rating were the dreaded I smell book series. I've had this title kicking around for awhile and finally picked it up. It was a good read, though the author gives herself away with the Boys of Empire thing. That's exactly what this is, a Biggles, Boy's Own Adventure serial story with a girl protagonist. But it made a mindless little popcorn read--crisp, light, airy and no substance at all. Very much along the lines of Wells and Wong. Set in the years immediately before WW1, what took a star from the rating were the dreaded linguistic anachronisms. If you're going to write period fiction, please study the idiom of the time you set your book in! That's why God gave us Google--to keep modern writers from getting quite so much egg on their faces as Woodfine manages to. Several of her turns of phrase are 30 to 40 years too early. At one point Sophie, the well brought up middle class gel complete with governess says that Edith with be "browned off"--a phrase that didn't become current until the 1930s, and not used by young gels until the sixties. At one point Joe says "I'll level with you"--1970s slang. One of the bad guys mentions a "fail-safe" way to create ciphers, anticipating use of the term by a good 40 years, as it wasn't even coined until about 1948. And why does he refer to a huge luxurious department store as a "gin palace," which as anyone with Internet access (or elderly parents) knows refers to glitzy bars that sell gin? While there may have indeed been a bar in Sinclair's, it is never mentioned, and that was not the only thing they sold in those six floors of merchandise. If you're looking for a mindless little read, this is a good one, but I'm not quite as mindless as all that.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karen Barber

    This first in The Sinclair's Mysteries series is certainly of a type, but for fans of Robin Stevens this is a must. Our main character, Sophie Taylor, has not in the most auspicious of circumstances. Her mother died when Sophie was little, and her father has recently been killed at War. For reasons which are never fully explained, Sophie's home has been sold from under her and she is now responsible for herself. Sophie is clearly resourceful and has secured a position as a milliner's assistant in This first in The Sinclair's Mysteries series is certainly of a type, but for fans of Robin Stevens this is a must. Our main character, Sophie Taylor, has not in the most auspicious of circumstances. Her mother died when Sophie was little, and her father has recently been killed at War. For reasons which are never fully explained, Sophie's home has been sold from under her and she is now responsible for herself. Sophie is clearly resourceful and has secured a position as a milliner's assistant in Sinclair's store - a wonder of the time. Unfortunately, on the night before the grand opening a mysterious object - the clockwork sparrow - is stolen along with a number of valuable jewels. Sophie is accused of the theft, but we know - from the events we've watched - that this is not the full story. From the outset we are plunged into a world of espionage, where young adults get to show they are cleverer than established detectives. There's the occasional red herring and we are kept in the dark with certain characters/links. While I was frustrated by some of the mysteries remaining hidden, there was enough there to make me think the Baron will be a recurring feature of these novels - and I wondered if he would end up being a little closer to home than Sophie is prepared for.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Mead

    This book was a fabulous read. I loved it. It was a mystery, obviously, but it had a dreamy feel to it unlike any other mystery I've read. The characters are most likeable and the whole idea of 'Sinclair's' (department store) was so... well, I don't know, just so exciting and perfect. I am giving this book five stars because it really deserves it. :)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    I'm a bit disappointed. :( I was expecting a much more interesting mystery. Still, this is a book for a younger audience, but I feel they also deserve better mystery books than this one. I liked the descriptions of the department store (everybody liked them as far as I can see from the other reviews), but a mystery book does not solely consists of great descriptions. I didn't like characters that much either. Sophie is rather without identity, Lil is a typical carefree gal, I didn't learn a thin I'm a bit disappointed. :( I was expecting a much more interesting mystery. Still, this is a book for a younger audience, but I feel they also deserve better mystery books than this one. I liked the descriptions of the department store (everybody liked them as far as I can see from the other reviews), but a mystery book does not solely consists of great descriptions. I didn't like characters that much either. Sophie is rather without identity, Lil is a typical carefree gal, I didn't learn a thing about Joe except that he is an ex gang member and Billy is a comic nerd sans common sense. Some twists and turns were rather bland and expected and you start to anticipate some big twist, yet it leads to nothing. I gave three stars just because I liked the sentences and descriptions, but the plot deserves barely two stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Luna

    3.5 Stars Sophie Taylor is an orphan, formally of good standing she is now working at Sinclair’s Department Store. The most famous department store in the world they say and it isn’t even open yet. Teased by the shop girls for being too high and mighty Sophie is glad when she finally makes not one friend but two. Lilian Rose one of the Captain Girls and Billy. Helping Billy out of trouble is what leads to Sophie being in trouble. While Sophie is the main focus for most of the book the third-person 3.5 Stars Sophie Taylor is an orphan, formally of good standing she is now working at Sinclair’s Department Store. The most famous department store in the world they say and it isn’t even open yet. Teased by the shop girls for being too high and mighty Sophie is glad when she finally makes not one friend but two. Lilian Rose one of the Captain Girls and Billy. Helping Billy out of trouble is what leads to Sophie being in trouble. While Sophie is the main focus for most of the book the third-person narration shifts between her, Lilian, Billy and Joe. My favourite character was Lilian; she’s self-assured, loyal and brave. Sophie is still finding herself and there are hints promising more revelations in future. (Although I have a suspicion I can guess what one of them is.) Loved getting lost in the descriptions of Sinclair’s, when Sophie first takes a walk around I had a panoramic cinema view going on in my head. I read The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow in one afternoon, Sunday afternoon as it happens. Highly recommend it with some tea and biscuits (or cake).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Souza

    A delightful read. I loved the characters and overall story. It was well paced and had many plot twists. I wasn't bored one bit. The writing was exceptional. The way Sinclair's was described was just beautiful. I also really loved the wonderful illustrations sprinkled throughout the book. I definitely recommend giving this book a shot. You won't regret it :)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tammie

    Read- June 2020 for the MakeYourMythTaker Readathon (Mercenary- Anticipated Read) - I've owned this entire series for about two years and I just never picked it up but this year I discovered my love of middle grade mysteries so I just had to pick it up. I'm so annoyed I haven't read this before now, I adored it so much and it's for sure on par with the Murder Most Unladylike Series.

  28. 4 out of 5

    James

    I absolutely ADORED this book! Will try and write a better review soon, but suffice to say READ IT! It's just so fantastic!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mehsi

    I just knew I would love this book. It had all the ingredients for me to love this book, and did I love it? Yes, yes I did. I loved it a lot, and I am delighted that this won't be the only book about Sophie and Lilian. The book switches between Sophie, Lilian, Billy, Joe, but our main focus in the story is Sophie and Lilian. Joe only occasionally gets a part in the spotlight, Billy gets some more attention, but the 2 that speak the most are the girls. And what a delight it was to hear their voice I just knew I would love this book. It had all the ingredients for me to love this book, and did I love it? Yes, yes I did. I loved it a lot, and I am delighted that this won't be the only book about Sophie and Lilian. The book switches between Sophie, Lilian, Billy, Joe, but our main focus in the story is Sophie and Lilian. Joe only occasionally gets a part in the spotlight, Billy gets some more attention, but the 2 that speak the most are the girls. And what a delight it was to hear their voices. Sophie, a girl who lost everything not that long ago, still trying to find her place in the world, still trying to figure out how to survive now she has no money. Even with all that, she is a strong character and she quickly finds a job at the magnificent Sinclairs department store that is about to open to public (more on Sinclairs later in this book). I felt sorry for her and how people acted towards her. She was just trying to make a good impression, but apparently overdressed. And only for that, and probably because of her mannerisms, the girls (especially Edith) treat her with disdain. I just wanted to shake those girls. They only thought about themselves, and they were just terrible. But even with that going on, and the fact that Sophie is accused of stealing the precious bird (she was at the wrong time, at the wrong place, looking at the wrong things), she keeps strong, of course she has moments that she just doesn't look forward to things, but she keeps defending her pride, she keeps on the lookout for other things to do. I love that. I am always worried that when stuff goes down, that our main character will just melt in a puddle of complaining, whining and sadness. Luckily this girl is a strong one. Even when faced with super bad people, she keeps her chin up and tries to find a way to get away from things and to save those she loves/likes/cares about. At the beginning, when we first met her, she was still a bit shaky, feeling alone, but at the end, we had a strong woman who knew she had friends to rely on, friends who will cheer her up and are there for her when she needs them. Lilian was a great character and I loved her job in the Sinclairs department store, but I also loved how even with her heritage and even with all her richness, she took on a job, cares more about theatre and getting famous. That takes courage, to go against the wishes of your parents. She also had a big heart, and I loved how she instantly became friends with Sophie. I also loved how smart she was, at times she seemed a bit ditzy, a bit not there, but then she would do something and you would think totally different. Like Sophie, she is a brave character, willing to defend and help her friends. Even her friends enemies. She didn't need to help that person, but she did. I loved the snarky remark she made at the end of that though. Billy, a good character, with a good heart, but he will really need to learn to work and not just wander off or show disrespect. Though lucky we do see him grow in this book. At the beginning I was often a bit annoyed with him, though I did love his love for books. But I also disliked that he acted like crap on the job. Not everyone can just get that job, his uncle did his best for him, and he treats it like it is nothing. Bleh. But he did have a big role in this book, and the things he could do were pretty awesome. Joe, I am still not entirely sure what to think of him. At times I really liked him, and he did have a good heart, but at times I didn't like him, didn't trust him and worried that he might do something to our girls. Later as the book continued I could see that he was just a guy that got stuck in a situation and who wishes it was all different. The story, it was magnificent, it pulled me in and didn't let me go until I finished the book. The descriptions of the world we are in, it was great. Though, I have to really give applause for the amazing details and descriptions that Sinclair Department Store got. I truly could just see me in the store, wandering around through the various departments, trying on hats at the millinery, eating candy at the sweets department, trying on dresses, or just wandering around and looking at the live mannequins showing the latest fashion. Or I could imagine myself having a very fancy brunch with a good, dear friend. Giggling over tea, scones and other delicious things. The mystery and the whodunit? It was engaging and fun to try to track the traces, to search for clues, to think about this and that persons actions. The whole why the bird was stolen, it went further than that it was valuable and worth a lot of money, and I really liked that. It gave the story something extra, and made it all more and more dangerous. The ending was great and it gives us promises of many great books to follow. Hopefully they all have some great mysteries, and hopefully we will find out more about Sophie's past, about her father, about all the connections that are probably going to pop up throughout the books. All in all, a fantastic book about mystery, crime, corruption and more. Great characters and wonderful description of the world surrounding these characters. Highly recommended to all looking for a great Middle Grade Mystery book. I will be anxiously awaiting the second book (yes, there will be more). Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jannah (Cloud Child)

    A very fun romp which keeps me wanting more. The characters were fun and the settinf was quite beautifully described. The only thing is there was a little bit of predictability to the plot and character stereotypes. But it was written well enough. I can see that the series will further the unexplained and resolve it in time and Im impatient to know more.

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