Murder is Bad Manners: exclusive cover reveal + giveaway

June 23, 2014 2014, cover reveal, food in books, giveaway, middle grade, mystery, Wendy 104

When you hear the words murder + mystery + English boarding school, you’re either the type of reader who is immediately intrigued, or you have no imagination whatsoever are not. And I, my friends, am the type who hops a tiny bit with excitement at those delicious words! What’s even better is when the story is set in the 1930s and features two girls at its center, one of whom is of Asian descent. With the #WeNeedDiverseBooks tag taking over the interwebs recently, it’s nice to be reminded that many authors and publishers have been quietly tending to stories with diverse characters all along.

Today, we’re so pleased to be hosting the exclusive cover reveal for Murder is Bad Manners, a cozy middle grade mystery from debut author Robin Stevens. It’s the first book in the Wells & Wong series, which was just published in the UK under the title Murder Most Unladylike. Our edition won’t be out until April 2015, but we have your first look at the book now!





Deepdean School for Girls, 1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own deadly secret detective agency, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t, really.)

But then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She thinks it must all have been a terrible accident—but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls know a murder must have taken place…and there’s more than one person at Deepdean with a motive.

Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove a murder happened in the first place. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning, scheming and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

Murder is Bad Manners will be released in North America in April 2015.

About the Author

Robin StevensRobin Stevens was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.

When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. When it occurred to her that she was never going to be able to grow her own spectacular walrus moustache, she decided that Agatha Christie was the more achieveable option.

She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She then went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and now she works at a children’s publisher, which is pretty much the best day job she can imagine. Robin now lives in Cambridge with her boyfriend and her pet bearded dragon, Watson.

Visit Robin online on her website or Twitter.

Feel free to grab and share the cover art if you wish!

Isn’t the artwork fun? I love the warm green and yellow colors and typography, which tweak the slightly spooky images so you know it’s a book filled with humor. And look at those girls! Those girls can clearly handle any situation thrown at them, and with aplomb besides.

If you’re like me, you also grew up daydreaming about girls in boarding school and what it was like to live away from home in the midst of strangers. Wouldn’t you get homesick? Wouldn’t be hard to adjust? But wouldn’t it be fun at the  same time? The author went to a boarding school herself, so she’s here to tell us about the experience, as well as how it shaped the setting for her novel.

Please make Robin feel welcome!

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An American Girl in an English Boarding School
by Robin Stevens

I’m particularly delighted to be able to introduce my book, and my main characters Daisy and Hazel, to American readers. Although I live in England now, I was born in Santa Cruz, California. We moved to England when I was three, but my stubbornly American mother made sure that my childhood was as all-American as humanly possible on the wrong side of the Atlantic. I ate Kraft macaroni cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (my mother had to get the Kraft by mail-order), dyed eggs at Easter (the British eggs were brown, so none of the colours came out right), went trick-or-treating every year (I got yelled at, a lot, by enraged home-owners), and read Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown and The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler as well as Malory Towers and The Famous Five.

So even though I went to boarding school in England, just like my two heroines, I went as an outsider. I’d read a lot of boarding-school books before I arrived at Cheltenham Ladies’ College aged 13 and I thought I was prepared. Of course, I wasn’t. At boarding school, nothing operates normally. In fact, normal means something totally different. It was so normal to be a princess, for example, or at least vaguely royal, that no one even bothered to boast about it. It was just sort of assumed. This was a bit unsettling. I’d be talking to someone who’d been introduced to me as Bob, or Minty, and then I’d suddenly realise that her full name was Alexandra Trumpington Smythe and her parents owned half of England.

I’ve got a lot of sympathy for my narrator Hazel, a Hong-Kong Chinese girl in England. Just like her, I usually felt as though I was trying to navigate a completely alien culture. I watched my English friends running happily about on freezing cold sports fields and having long, serious conversations about rain, and wondering how on earth they could really be enjoying themselves. I couldn’t ever get over the suspicion that they were just making most of it up, and that’s where Daisy’s smart, secretive character came from.

I can’t express just how weird boarding school life was. There were hundreds of secret rules that did not make sense, and existed for reasons that no one could explain. There was a staircase in my boarding house, for example, that only the older girls were allowed to use. There were no labels on this staircase, and no barriers – you were just supposed to know, and if you didn’t know (I didn’t), you emerged from the staircase to a whole hallway full of people staring at you in horror.

Just like Hazel, I messed up and confused myself constantly – but all the same I loved every bizarre aspect of boarding school life. It would have been difficult not to. Half of the magic of Harry Potter comes from Hogwarts, after all, and I lived the closest thing to Hogwarts there is. I really did wear a tie, and have Latin lessons, and play strange, outdoors sports. I also ate mountains of food, most importantly bunbreak (a meal that happened in the middle of every morning. Lessons just stopped for twenty minutes, and everyone went outside to eat cookies). The only thing missing from my school experience was a really interesting murder – and that’s why I wrote Murder is Bad Manners.

divider vine croppedWin a copy of Murder is Bad Manners!

This book won’t be out for another year–ANOTHER YEAR–but thanks to Simon & Schuster, we already have the very earliest ARC to give away to one of our lucky readers. All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a thoughtful comment below telling us why you’re excited to read the book! Don’t forget, you may earn extra entries for daily tweeting, pinning, etc.

Open to U.S. and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. See entry form for complete details. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Advance and giveaway copies are provided by the publisher. Our thanks to Robin for stopping by the blog today!


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Are you as keen to read this story as I am? I can’t wait to meet Daisy and Hazel!

Wendy signature teal





104 Responses to “Murder is Bad Manners: exclusive cover reveal + giveaway”

  1. yoomi

    I love both the US and UK covers! I don’t know if i can wait until April!

  2. Dee Topa

    I love mysteries! Especially mysteries that take place in a boarding school AND have the lead detectives as girls. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on this book!
    Dee Topa recently posted…Intertwined

  3. maat

    I’m already in love with this book. The cover and title are just to die for! -cough cough-

  4. maleficent m

    I love that it’s set in the 30’s in England. I think this will be a highly entertaining book with lots of lol and mystery.

  5. Amy

    The cover is adorable and I love the fact that it’s set in the 1930’s at a boarding house.

  6. Alycia

    The cover has me drooling! It’s beautiful! Synopsis sounds like it’ll be right up my alley, too…I’m thinking this is one of those books that I’ll have to read a physical copy of and skip the Kindle edition. :)

  7. Cee

    Eeeeeek. This book has all the things I love — Murder, mystery, English boarding school, 1930s, and a POC. I’m such a sucker for that time period. Plus, that cover, actual hearts in my eyes! The typography on it is insanely gorgeous!

  8. Janice

    The cover is super cute. I showed this to the children’s librarian where I work before I found out it wouldn’t come out until 2015. Let us have it now. :]

  9. J. Oh

    I read a lot of murder mysteries when I was younger; not as much nowadays, but the cover here is beautiful, and I’m so excited for an Asian narrator, as an Asian-American myself. :) Plus, boarding school! College is the closest thing I’ve experienced, but I’m intrigued.

  10. Carolien

    I just adore mysteries set in the 20’s and 30’s. Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie and I grew up reading Mallory towers. This sounds like the perfect blend. I can’t wait to read it.

  11. Aimee Landis

    I can’t wait to read this! I like murder mysteries with a twist and hi-jinx!

  12. Sarah P.

    I love the sound of this book. Wendy, you totally had me at boarding school. I love boarding school/detective stories. Too bad I can’t join the ARC raffle, but I would definitely be peeling my eyes out for this one. And super yay for the Asian character. I looked up the book in Goodreads and it has a different title. I think I’m more partial to the quirkier one, which is Murder is Bad Manners.

    To Daisy: I gobbled up my fair share of Nancy Drew books too. I do love rain but it’s because it’s a respite for our hot climate. I’m not sure it is ever hot in Britain though so I definitely understand where you’re coming from. :)
    Sarah P. recently posted…I am back!

  13. Rosa Goetz

    This looks like a truly fun book–I’ve been recommending books to some parents I know for their middle-school-aged children, and this looks like a great one for the age category.

  14. Stephanie

    This book looks awesome. I would have loved to start a detective agency while in boarding school when I was younger! I’d love to do it now, but 44 is probably too old :)

  15. Larissa

    This seems like the middle grade novel I’ve been searching for c; As a younger girl Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were girls I looked up too. There’s nothing more interesting to me than a good fashioned mystery. The fact this book is also set in the 30’s makes me even more interesting. It’s not a secret that I adore historical fiction, so I’m excited to see some historical elements come through the story. The fact that the story is set in a boarding school is so cool. All of the books that feature boarding schools make me want to attend one. Especially in England, that place makes everything seem appealing.

    That cover is so gorgeous c: It’s so detailed yet simplistic at the same time. The font for the title is super cool too.

    Thanks for the giveaway! <33 As always, hoping I'm actually lucky for once lol
    Larissa recently posted…Review: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

  16. Melissa of craftgasm

    I had a small obsession with boarding schools (specifically British ones) after reading Magorian’s Back Home in about fourth grade. This looks delightful — I can’t wait for it to be released!

  17. Candace

    This sounds SO good! I love that it’s set in a boarding school and in this time period. And a mystery! The cover is amazing as well. Very memorable!
    The guest post is awesome! That’s funny that her mom brought her trick or treating and there was a lot of irate people, lol. I think it would be fun to go to boarding school in England but that might just be because of all the wonderful books I’ve read! And I’m a bit too old now. ;)
    Candace recently posted…Adult Audiobook Review: Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

  18. Rainey Lynch

    I moderate a Young Readers Book Club at a local indie bookshop, and I am SO excited about the prospect of reading this book with the young readers!

  19. Craig

    A good historical British mystery, coupled with two MG protagonists, and an awesome cover that resembles an old film poster…what is NOT to love?!?!

  20. Leandra Wallace

    The fact that this cover has a body being pushed in a wheelbarrow would make me want to read it, even if it wasn’t about something as awesome as boarding school. Gorgeous cover and that synopsis is pretty much magic. I also love that Robin shared her honest experiences. And cookie breaks? Why doesn’t the workplace implement this- I would be a much better worker! ;)
    Leandra Wallace recently posted…Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 3)

  21. Katie F

    I would love this ARC! I love the idea of boarding schools – they always seemed so mysterious and wonderful! Plus I’m an Anglophile so I feel like this is right up my alley.

  22. Brenda

    This book seems to compliment our reading of The Westing Game this month, well at least the murder mystery aspects. Hazel and Daisy do sound like such fun and interesting characters and then set them in an English boarding school it should make for a wonderful read. I really like the colors of the cover and the body in the wheelbarrow adds just the right amount of mystery. Plus the cut outs with the girls let you know that there is some humor too. I too have never heard of “bunbreak” but it makes me miss the afternoon coffees that I used to have with my grandparents in Germany.

  23. Rashika

    That gorgeous cover speaks to my heart. I haven’t read an MG murder mystery in forever so I am incredibly excited to get my greedy hands on this one. I am slowly diving back into MG and you really should see my flailing like an idiot at this cover :P Ah the magic covers work.

    Thanks for sharing this, Wendy! And thanks to the author for sharing her boarding school experience with us :D
    Rashika recently posted…Random Things in Motion #4: Books and Bias

  24. Jenni

    This cover is adorable! The historical element kind of scares me but the whole premise sounds really great so I think I could get over that. I am definitely a sucker for boarding school settings! Also I am so interested in it because it seems like so much was taken from the authors past experiences and those are usually the best types of stories. Thanks for sharing ladies!
    Jenni recently posted…Review: The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor

  25. Alice J.

    This sounds so interesting! A murder at a boarding school, the perfect combination.

  26. Debi Hopkins

    I have always thought it would be great to go to an English school.

  27. Andrea G

    Mystery! 1930’s! Boarding school! England! I got to read this book. MG mysteries always get my interest. And this cover design is wonderful. l like how the girls faces are presented. But my favorite part is the shadowy person pushing the body in the wheelbarrow.
    As a kid I wanted to be Miss Marple.

    • Wendy Darling

      You know, I tried reading Miss Marple when I was too young, I think, although I have enjoyed some of her other mysteries! Agatha Christie is coming up a lot around here lately, we touch upon her in our Westing Game discussion that’s coming upon on Friday, too.

      That shadowy figure in the corner is great–I love how the body is all limp, so you know something TERRIBLE has happened. :D

  28. Brandi

    This looks so cute! I love a boarding school story, both for younger readers (like A Little Princess) or for adults (I would count Never Let Me Go). The cover is fabulous!

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah, I wouldn’t have thought of Ishiguro for boarding school settings, but you’re right! I love boarding school stories, too. One of my favorites features boys, though–The Great Brain at the Academy, which is based on the author’s memories of his smart aleck brother and all the scrapes he got into at a Catholic school. 1800s historical, but very funny.

  29. Christine T

    This sounds great and I love mysteries! I haven’t read a MG in awhile but I can’t wait to read this!

    • Wendy Darling

      Middle grade can be so, so wonderful when it’s done well. :) I hope you get your hands on this as soon as it’s out!

  30. Gwenn Belton

    I love mystery books and this looks like a great read. Also, my niece, Elizabeth Baddeley designed the cover, I believe, and anything that she designs is amazing!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, DID she?! Please tell her we’re all immensely fond of that cover and we think she did a marvelous job. Would you mind sharing her name and/or portfolio? I’d love to have a look at the other covers she’s designed.

    • Elizabeth Baddeley

      Oh, I’m right here! Ha ha. It’s been a lot of fun reading all these comments. As one of the lucky ones who’s already read this book, I can tell you you’re in for a treat! The perfect mix of spooky, funny and sweet. Really fell in love with these girls AND the idea of an English boarding school. I’ve already shared with Robin my idea for an English Boarding school summer camp for grown women (ha ha, only partly kidding!). Thank you all for your kind words!

  31. Krispy

    I love the cover, especially the shadowed figures in the bottom corner. What a fun sounding book. I do love MG mysteries, and I find the whole girl sleuths thing very appealing.
    Krispy recently posted…Ready. Set. Write! (Week 3)

    • Wendy Darling

      I have such a soft spot for girl sleuths, too! I enjoyed Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, and a whole lot of girl detectives in more obscure stories. I read mostly mysteries when I was in grade school, as it was the most prevalent fiction subgenre available at the time–definitely more choices than fantasy or scifi, for example. It seems like mysteries became less popular over the years, but I’m glad to see more recent titles coming out.

  32. Danielle D

    This book looks so adorable – definitely a throwback to English boarding school (like A Little Princess) mixed with mystery. I’ll definitely be checking out out whether I win it or not. Thanks for this chance!

    • Robin Stevens

      Not quite as harsh as A Little Princess (I hope) but definitely drawing on that kind of thing! I really hope you enjoy it when you get to read it!
      Robin Stevens recently posted…MMU in the news!

    • Wendy Darling

      Also, there is MURDER in this boarding school. *cackles gleefully*

      I’m glad the cover and synopsis pique your interest, Danielle! They definitely made my ears perk up.

  33. Joy McCullough-Carranza

    Oooh, I had been intrigued by the UK cover, but I think I might love this one even more (though I prefer the UK title). Sounds like either way it’s a delightful book. I can’t wait to read.

    • Robin Stevens

      Yes, I love both of the covers too, in very different ways! So pleased that the book looks so strong on both sides of the Atlantic. I hope you enjoy it!
      Robin Stevens recently posted…MMU in the news!

    • Wendy Darling

      Both UK and US covers and titles are lovely, it’s so hard to choose! I was telling someone on Twitter that I have the US ARC, but I’m sorely tempted to order the UK edition as well.

    • Wendy Darling

      Definitely an intriguing murder mystery! Classic cozy style, rather than the more typical thrillers we see more of these days.

    • Wendy Darling

      I am fascinated by boarding schools, so I loved that the author chose to do her guest post on that, too! And YES, it’s no easy feat to imply humor and spookiness for a juvenile audience at the same time without being too cutesy, but the designer did a lovely job.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yay, I’m glad to hear that! That description alone would have done it for me, too. That awesome cover is icing on the cake.

  34. marjorie

    This looks fabulous! And what a great cover. Very few books appeal to both my 12-year-old (Anglophile) and my 9-year-old (spy-story-lover) — this could do it!

    • Wendy Darling

      Wow, this book really does sound perfect for both your kids! Do you still read aloud with them? If not, it’ll at least make for lively dinner table discussions.

      • marjorie

        The older kid has JUST started staying up too much later than the younger one for me to read aloud to both. Very sad — I know I got a longer bedtime read-aloud period than a lot of parents do, so I shouldn’t be greedy. (However, older kid does her homework/browses Buzzfeed on the computer right outside their bedroom, so she does sorta listen…and she often reads things on her own and demands that I read them too.)


        • Wendy Darling

          Aw! It’s so lovely you were all able to enjoy that much reading togetherness, though. My mother wasn’t the read-aloud type, but some of my happiest childhood memories are of lying tucked in by her side as we both read books together. It helped to shape me as a reader, so I’m sure your kids are going to appreciate that even more as adults.

          And who knows, maybe this book will be one of those that has your older daughter listening through the doorway…and then maybe drifting in to join you as well.

          And YES. I’m already convinced bunbreak needs to be a regular thing here. It’s appalling that we don’t break for afternoon tea here. So uncivilized.

          • marjorie

            Thanks, Wendy! (I remember when my older one was a monster toddler, taking her on Amtrak to visit my mom and as I desperately stuffed Cheerios into her to keep her quiet watching a mom and daughter — the daughter was maybe 9 or 10 — across the aisle, leaning on each other, both reading their books. Seemed like a glimpse of another, less exhausting and more beautiful world.)

            I can see I am going to be addicted to this web site. Oy. And yay. And oy.

            • Wendy Darling

              Such a lovely memory. <3 It actually reminds me of a couple of children's books in which there were families traveling on trains, and the kids were getting into all sorts of mischief. If only the adults had had ready access to books and Cheerios, hah!

              And hooray, I'm so glad you found your way to us! We shall pine over books together.

    • Wendy Darling

      Just imagine how many feels you’ll have after you’ve read it! Heh. This book sounds like SO much fun–I can’t believe it’s so long until April 2015. *sigh*

  35. Lisa Brown

    It has a great story line and it is a mystery, so I would love to read it ;)

  36. Nikki

    I love the cover of this book. Those girls look like they are up to no good and super duper intelligent at the same time. Like they have a secret that they know you want to know but won’t tell you! Also I always like the boarding school setting but unfortunately haven’t read much where the story is as good as the scene itself. Hopefully this will be different :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Those girls look super smart and capable, and I would trust their judgment implicitly. And hah, yes, discreet and full of mischief, too! The artwork is so lively, and suggests their characters so well.

      I know what you mean about settings occasionally trumping plot/writing. I am so charmed by the author’s bio, though, that I’m willing to bet that this particular story has a good shot at breaking even.

    • Robin Stevens

      I love what the artist has done with my main characters. She’s made them look as cool and resourceful and fun to hang out with as I was imagining!
      Robin Stevens recently posted…MMU in the news!

      • Nikki

        I completely agree! It actually makes me a little jealous that I didn’t have these types of friends in school :) My school life would’ve made an exceptionally boring read with a whole slew of one dimensional characters, flat scenery, and sludgy character development. I seriously needed to pal along with these girls!

    • Wendy Darling

      So many kids and kids-at-heart are waiting for those Hogwarts letters. *sigh* The Deepdean School for Girls might be a teensy bit more within reach. Maybe.

  37. Erin BookNut

    I love a good boarding school story and also a good mystery, sounds like this book will be both. Really, it’s the boarding school aspect that’s got me interested, something that is coming up more and more right now. I can’t wait to check it out.
    Erin BookNut recently posted…YA Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

    • Wendy Darling

      I loved the author saying that Hogwarts was half of magic of Harry Potter–it’s so true, it’s almost a character! The setting in this book sounds so intriguing, and I’m looking forward to see how it plays into the story.

  38. Sarah C.

    This book sounds adorable and so fun and makes me feel nostalgic! I too, like the author, started reading Agatha Christie mysteries while young (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd being one of the first) and I still love them! The book description reminds me of Cat Among the Pigeons, a Poirot mystery that takes place at a girl’s boarding school. I would love to settle down with a cup of tea and this book!

    • Wendy Darling

      “Nostalgic…” It really does feel like it’s been around for awhile, doesn’t it? Almost a classic already, hah. That is the mark of a great cover design and great story idea.

      I need to read Roger Ackroyd sometime, that’s one that so many people talk about (and I love unreliable narrators).

      TEA would be PERFECT to have with this book. *sigh* Can’t wait!

    • Robin Stevens

      I was most certainly thinking about Cat Among the Pigeons when I wrote it! Lovely that you thought of that – I was definitely trying to evoke Christie and all the mysteries I grew up with.
      Robin Stevens recently posted…MMU in the news!

  39. Pili

    Oh my this sounds fantastic! I love boarding school stories and England and murder mysteries!! This is so my thing!! What a fantastic old-style cover too!
    I need to see if TBD have an English edition or something so I can cheat and get it earlier!!
    Pili recently posted…Showcase Sunday #38!

    • Wendy Darling

      Yesss, the cover is so delightful! I was thoroughly charmed when I saw it, and I love that they used untraditional colors for something like this.

      I really, really like the UK cover and title, too, so I’m glad you ordered it from TBD. As I read the first few chapters to get a feel for the story, I think I’m seeing a bit of language that was likely changed for the US edition, too.

  40. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    Murder is Bad Manners sounds truly awesome, Wendy! I love that it is set in England! I don’t know why, but I usually enjoy books that are set elsewhere than in the US. And a boarding school can be hiding so many things, right? With people spending so much time in each other’s company, there are also bound to be problems arising…
    The cover is pretty spooky, I love the wheel-barrow with someone either asleep or dead hanging over the sides :D
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Review: Written in my Own Heart’s Blood – Diana Gabaldon

    • Wendy Darling

      I adore books with an English setting. Not only because I grew up reading so many lovely stories set there, but I also spent a lot of summers there studying as a teenager. I think the “ooo, it’s not a US setting” makes sense for us here because it’s so different from what we’re accustomed to, and probably the same for you in Germany as well. Plus so many books are published/set in the US that anything other than that makes a nice change of pace!

      Good point re: problems arising because of proximity. It’s sort of like an accelerated version of the issues you have to confront when you go to college.

      And between you and me, I hope that someone is DEAD. :D