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Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

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

What Not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford.

February 21, 2017 Comments off

turn-invisibleWhat Not to do if you turn Invisible by Ross Welford. Pub. HarperCollins, 2017.

One of the funniest and most interesting children’s novels I have read for some time. It is for pre – teens and teens and once you start you will not put it down.

Thirteen year old Ethel lives in the North of England with her Gram. Her mother died when she was three and her father left in mysterious circumstances and Gram has never talked to her about it. Ethel is going to find out who and what they were in bizarre circumstances that involve trying to find a cure for her facial acne.

The combination of an on-line purchase of a Chinese remedy and a sunbed cause Ethel to become invisible. She is however only invisible when naked. She panics of course and has various absurd situations that will crack you up.

Then on a visit to her 100 year old great grandmother the old dear calls her Tiger Pussy. Who or what is Tiger Pussy? Well you are going to find out if you read the book.The mystery deepens with the visit of a man who smells of cigarettes and the discovery of a tin box with newspaper articles about an Amy Winehouse type pop singer called Felina. This will rattle Ethel’s cage at a time when her invisibility is causing problems.

Brilliantly written in three parts with 96 short chapters, this novel goes along at a rate of knots that will thrill you. There are sub plots involving bullying from twin brother and sister Jarrow and Jesmond Knight that will make you angry and gleeful at the same time. Ethel’s friend Boydy a cockney living in geordie country is a revelation, but the character of the book is Gram who is full of old fashioned wisdom and says things like “it is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”

A very satisfying read.

Horizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld

February 14, 2017 Comments off

horizonHorizon. survival is no game. by Scott Westerfeld. Pub. Scholastic, 2017.

This can only be the beginning of a new series because the end is inconclusive and elusive to the reader who is kept guessing all the way through the novel.

It is a science fiction/adventure novel with survival a major theme and is aimed at intermediate, junior secondary readers.

The novel begins with an unusual airplane crash by an aircraft en route from USA to Japan. In mid flight over the Arctic the aircraft is sliced through from nose to tail by something weird and crashes in a lush and dangerous jungle. How could this be?

Furthermore during the ripping of the fuselage all 500 adults disappeared leaving behind 8 teenagers and there seemed to have been some sort of electric selection system that decided who survived. Could this be true?

The teenagers wonder where they are. The plants and animals seem to indicate they are on Earth but two moon like lights in the sky suggest another planet. As the teenagers face what has happened to them they find an anti gravity device which allows them to explore the surroundings and they encounter a flesh eating vine and birds with razor sharp beaks that hunt in a flock.

Cool heads are needed to get out of this because if they got there, there has to be a way back. Read it and find out.

Imaginatively written by Scott Westerfeld, this series will be a winner.

SNARK Being the true story of the expedition that discovered the snark and the Jabberwock by David Elliot after Lewis Carroll

November 21, 2016 Comments off

snarkSNARK Being the true story of the expedition that discovered the snark and the Jabberwock  by David Elliot after Lewis Carroll. Pub. Otago University Press, 2016.

This brilliantly illustrated book of the tales of the Jabberwock and the Snark might well be called a “snail of a tale”. To understand why I say this you will need to read the book.

Basically Elliot tries to get to the bottom of all the literary questions that have been posed by both Lewis Carroll’s nonsense fantasy poems. He creates a fictional book allegedly written by The Boots who was the helmsman on the voyage to hunt the Snark and the only character without an illustration.In this book he is the only character to survive the voyage and discovers what indeed a Snark was and more importantly what it looked like.

The Boots account of the story of Jabberwock and Snark is beautifully merged with Lewis Carroll’s poems without destroying the mystery of them.

It is fine writing by David Elliot and even better illustrations.

This book is for the child inside all adults who wondered  what the devil the opening line to the Jabberwock meant “Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did Gyre and gimble in the wabe”

The Notes in the back of this 42nd edition add authenticity to David Elliot’s work and that of Lewis Carroll. I believe it would bring a smile to his face.

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