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Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Watch Me! by Jenni Francis.

April 7, 2018 Comments off

watch meWatch Me! by Jenni Francis. Pub. jennifrancis.com  2018

The most recent short novel for intermediate and junior secondary girls from the Keri series about Keri and her friend Mereana who are now 13 years old.

The girls go to visit cousin Claire on a farm that runs horse trekking holidays as well as stocking sheep and cattle. Someone is stealing horses sheep and cattle from Claire’s farm and from surrounding farms and the girls are going to become involved.

It is not the only drama in the book as Claire has found lumps under her arm and has bad sweats in bed at night but this is not going to hold her back.

As usual this short novel is tightly written with realistic dialogue between the girls and other characters. It has great family values and is written at a pace that keeps you in the book.

Who would have thought that Morse Code would be still useful in these days of cell phones. Read it and find out why. Lots of horse talk.

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein.

February 23, 2018 Comments off

small spaces (2)Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. Pub. Walker Books, April 2018.

This first novel is a psychological thriller for high school students and young adults that will have you spellbound from start to finish. The finish will have you panting for breath and screaming at the characters to get a bloody grip. It is frightening.

The main character is Tash who is sixteen going on seventeen. She narrates the story in two time spells, the present and when she was eight. For Tash there is no such thing as a fresh start because her past keeps haunting her in a continuous loop.

When Tash was eight she started seeing an invisible friend called Sparrow. Invisible to everybody else but visible to her and totally frightening. “I am here to play with you. Who invited you? You did”. Sparrows appearance coincided with two events. The birth of Tash’s brother Tim and the disappearance and later discovery of 8 year old Mallory who was her friend and who she says was taken by Sparrow.

Everybody is upset especially Tash’s parents and the appearance of Sparrow is put down to “Attention seeking”. Mallory stops speaking and her family move out of the district.

In the present Mallory and her parents move back into the district and for Tash all the psychological damage comes back. She starts a relationship with Mallory’s brother Morgan and subsequent events blow the whole disappearance of Mallory and the appearance of Sparrow into the open.

The writing is rich in metaphor for example Morgan is described as having boy band hair and you can see it as you read. Dialogue between the teenage characters is sharp and believable.

If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

 

Rain Fall by Ella West.

January 15, 2018 Comments off

rain fallRain Fall by Ella West. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2018.

When a teenage boy who “wouldn’t hurt a fly” empties a shotgun into the local police station and  blows his house up with plastic explosive while surrounded by the Armed Offenders squad, then disappears into the bush, you know something is dreadfully wrong.

Add to that a suspected murder and missing body and you have a mystery on your hands.

Fifteen year old Annie lives in Westport, just out of town and down the road from Pete the boy suspected of murder who used the shotgun and blew up his house. Annie loves horses and while exercising her horse Blue along the West Coast beach she meets a boy Jack, who is a rodeo star, a little older than her, and whose father is a detective sent from over the hill to investigate the crimes mentioned above.

Jack kisses Annie, her first kiss, and romance blossoms but around them the community is falling apart. What is going on? Read it and find out.

The rain soaked West Coast becomes another character in this novel that chronicles the effects that mine closures and job losses have on a community. Set near the Stockton mine, Annie’s father drives the coal train from Stockton to Otira and becomes victim of the mine closures. The whole community is stressed.

Up to date account of a real situation. The descriptions of the rain and the Coast environment are superb and the tensions created by the murder make great reading.

A worthy follow up to Ella West’s hit novel Night Vision which is reviewed on this blog and has the most hits of any novel on it. Intermediate and high school readers will enjoy this.

The Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward

August 1, 2017 Comments off

traitor thiefThe Traitor and the Thief by Gareth Ward. Pub. Walker Books, 2017.

Many words could be used to describe this novel for readers of a wide age range from 12-18 years. Steam punk should be a couple of them but also ingenious, thrilling and enormously clever would be others.

The central character is teenager Sin who was left at an orphanage with a teddy bear, grew up tough and ended up working the streets as a thief for Fixer, a Fagan like character. He learns that rules mean nothing when you have money, power and privilege. The poor have no chance. Some things never change.

He is caught by the mysterious Eldritch Moons and pressured to join a COVERT OPERATIONS GROUP (COG) and train to be a spy. His fellow trainees include the ruthless Velvet, the delicious Zonda and a host of villainous reprobates but his talents as a liar, a cheat and thief are just the talents needed.

COG is headed by a genius inventor named Nimrod whose inventions form the steam punk part of the novel and he has the moral high ground by using his organisation to prevent war. Nimrod makes many enemies and COG has more leaks and conflicts than the West Wing of the White House.

Will Sin survive? and who are his parents? Is there a link between his abandonment at birth and COG? Read it and enjoy this thriller as much as I did. The ending will have you gasping for breath.

The plot bears a close similarity to the military, industrial and political rivalry that precipitated World war 1, and the city of Coxford where the novel is set, is remarkably like London.

Winner of the Storylines Tessa Duder Award. Splendidly paced and written. Great cover.

Edgeland by Jake Halpen and PeterKujawinski.

July 10, 2017 Comments off

edgelandEdgeland by Jake Halpen and PeterKujawinski. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.

It is said that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. Make this book the exception because the cover introduces you to this novel in the best way possible. The sea surging through arches into a chasm. The people in this novel call it The Drain and it is 30 miles wide and 100 miles across.

Where is it going and what mysteries surround it? For the population in this novel the drain is at the core of their hopes and dreams particularly at death. Are they being deceived?

Wren is a lower caste urchin with a strong sense of survival and caring for others. Alec is from a rich family who needs to prove himself to his family. He works for a funeral parlour to assist the bodies of the dead and some of the living  over the edge of the Drain to the afterlife.

Alec and Wren are friends but they are going to find out things that they never thought possible. Their journey in the land of the dead is thought provoking and deep. Look out for the links to this pair of authors first title together the very impressive Nightfall also reviewed on this blog.

Drown the serpent of Fear is a mantra that characterises this novel for Intermediate and high school students. A very good read. The ending will have you on the edge of your seat.

 

A Different Dog by Paul Jennings.

April 8, 2017 Comments off

different dogA Different Dog by Paul Jennings. Pub. Allen & Unwin, 2017.

Fans of Paul Jennings will not be disappointed in this long short story. Just over 80 pages of writing that will keep you on edge and keep you guessing to the end.

The boy who narrates the story is known only as the boy. He never speaks but once owned a dog called Deefer whose fate is crucial to the story. The boy lives with his mother and they are very poor but both want to break that poverty thing.

Although the boy never talks you know what he is thinking. He has no friends and is harangued at school  but an adventure in which a vehicle leaves the road and kills the owner leaving another dog, is to change the boy’s life. Read it and see how.

The illustrations by Geoff Kelly in black and white pen are a critical part of this story

Superbly constructed by a master storyteller for reluctant readers of intermediate and secondary school age.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading.

April 6, 2017 Comments off

kitty hawkKitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading. Pub.  2012.

Kitty Hawk is a redheaded 19 year old girl who is intelligent, brave, cares about the planet and everything on it and still blushes when she meets a boy whom she likes. She is also a pilot and like Amelia Earhart wants to fly around the World.

This is the first book in an adventure, travel mystery series for teens and Young Adults in which Kitty in her flying boat visit and have adventures all over the World. This novel is set on the West coast of Canada and USA and follows the route of the Yukon Gold rushes of the 1890’s.

Some legendary gold has been stolen or has it? Kitty while flying and filming the whales off the Alaskan coast stumbles across four brothers who allegedly have a hoard of stolen gold. Kitty is captured by the brothers and walks the legendary Chilkoot Pass taken by the goldrush miners. But all is not as it seems as the brothers discover Kitty has a plane and force her to help them shift the gold.

Iain Reading tells the story in some detail. We learn of the Yukon Goldrushes, of Jack London and his writings, of the whales off the Alaskan coast and of Inuit culture. Plus there is adventure and mystery.

Although the font size was small I read this novel very quickly because it was so darn interesting. Read it and see, and look for the others in the series at the web page given above. http://www.kittyhawkworld.com