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Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Alice-Miranda in the Outback by Jacqueline Harvey.

June 19, 2020 Comments off

MirandaAlice-Miranda in the Outback by Jacqueline Harvey. Pub Puffin Books 2020.

This is an adventure mystery novel for middle school readers set in the outback of Australia and it is the latest in 19 books about the same characters set in other parts of the World.

Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is a pre teen girl with a vivid and enquiring mind. She likes to solve mysteries and with her friends Millicent and Jacinta,  and cousin Lucas and others she sets about solving mysteries on a huge outback station near opal center Coober Pedy.

Something has gone wrong with the water supply around Hope Springs Station,  outback legend  Taipan Dan has gone missing, his friend an fellow character Sprocket McGinty is kidnapped and a ginger cat Junie turns up at Hope Springs Station where Miranda and her friends and family are staying. Then a young deaf girl goes missing, a mystery map is found and there rumours of a lost opal mine start circulating. Plenty for Miranda to get her teeth into and she does.

Easy to read with the Outback being a major character in this book. I read it quickly and so will you. Good family values.

The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King.

March 7, 2020 Comments off

InkbergThe Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King. Pub. Gecko Press, 2020.

This is one of the best graphic novels for readers 8-14 years that i have ever read and it is by New Zealand film maker and comic book writer Jonathan King.

Miro  is a smart lad with a green hat and glasses who is a reader. He loves books. Zia his friend is a photographer and between them they unravel a mystery that affects all the people who live in the small fishing town of Aurora.

The origin of the mystery that enabled Aurora to become a wealthy fishing town is the Antarctic adventures akin to those of Shackleton of a man called Danforth who built a castle on the cliffs across the water from the town.

As his men hauled a lifeboat across the ice that crushed their ship they come across a dark ink coloured ice peak sticking up from the sea through the pack ice. They discover  an abundance of sea life beneath the black peak and have an encounter with a huge squid like creature. Danforth keeps a diary written in the ink from the dark peak and discovers it has a power that is very dark indeed. Read it and see what it is.

Comic book styled images and believable characters make this a sound reading gem for readers who are visual. It would make a wonderful film.

Don’t miss this you will kick yourself.

One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

January 20, 2020 Comments off

one of usOne of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus. Pub. penguin Books, 2020.

If you are ever in an on-line Truth or Dare scenario take the Dare. That is the message of this compelling mystery novel about the toxic danger that on-line social media Apps can have.

This novel is a sequel to One of us is Lying in which high school student Simon arranged his own death to make it look like his friends murdered him. Sick ? yes I know. These friends who include a champion gay baseball pitcher, a courting couple and a girlfriend, are in this novel but a new generation have taken over.

A Truth or Dare App has taken over the lives of the students of Bayfield High School run by an anonymous sicko called Darkestmind. He taunts the students to play truth or dare and all the memories and sick behaviour shown when Simon was around come to the surface again.

The students of Bayfield High School are mesmerised by the new game and show behaviours that no school or society should condone. The school doesn’t but the students do. All they had to do was ignore the App but they flocked to it like lambs to the slaughter.

The main characters in this are Maeve, sister of Bronwyn from the earlier novel, and a leukemia sufferer who is in remission. Knox a law student and shy boy who is treated cruel in the Truth and Dare game and Phoebe who has a fling with her sisters boyfriend and suffers the consequences in the game.

Crisis time comes when a member of the school is killed, but is it murder?

Structured in two parts this novel has much to say about teenage relationships and the dangers of on-line social media Apps. Then there is the mystery of who is behind the Truth and Dare game.

Superbly written by Karen McManus who keeps the tension flowing and gives a satisfying ending, but the human behaviour amongst the young is often appalling. One comment stands out to me. When the girls look up Knox’s website this comment is made “No selfies. What kind of weirdo is he?” Astonishing!

You just have to read it. Senior high school and young adults

My New Red Car by David Minty.

October 7, 2019 Comments off

red carMy New Red Car by David Minty. Pub. Mintybooks.co.nz, 2019.

I read this book the way I read all picture books. I blocked out the text and looked at the illustrations first to see what they told me.

From this I saw that it was about colours and particularly about red cars. There seemed to be a lot of red cars in a state of destruction or in precarious positions such as up a tree or flattened or in power lines. Then I saw a dinosaur like monster with the outline of a car stuck in it’s neck.

Then I read the text and it all came together. Yellow square has a red car which he wants to show to yellow square with goggles but it is missing. Where can it be? I think you can guess from the last paragraph.

They get the car back but it’s a bit smelly. I wonder why? But the yellow squares have suddenly turned brown when inside the red car. You work it out.

I enjoyed the mystery of the picture book and loved the way it used space. Simple text and bright colours. Go see for yourself

Categories: Mystery, Picture book Tags:

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

May 11, 2019 Comments off

I ClaudiaI, Claudia by Mary McCoy. Pub. carolehoda Lab, 2019. Imprint Walker Books.

Sometimes there comes a novel that you don’t want to ever finish and this political thriller about a student council in a Los Angeles high school is one of them.

I savoured this novel over 10 days and was not disappointed by a thing. Yes I was. I was disappointed that the Head and Board of Governors of the school did not step in earlier in spite of ample evidence to do so, but then that would have ruined the story

The Imperial Day Academy is a prestigious school that is run by a student body titled the Honour Council which is structured somewhat like the Roman Senate with representatives from each class level and a President and vice President. The candidates are elected annually and have as many qualities as everyday American politics – liars, cheats, bullies, power freaks and idealists. . The aim is to destroy your opponents character and intentions and make you seem like the only wise choice. Whether it is true or not.

The novel is told by Claudia McCarthy in the form of a testimony and you the reader will find out why this is when you finish the book. The aim is to work out who are the bad guys and who are the good guys and it is not easy. Claudia’s approach is this “I make a habit of identifying the psychopaths in my environment as quickly as possible”. But is she right? Claudia’s character is charismatic. She appears to be a nobody and describes herself as an historian and is ultimately totally brave.

The characters are stunningly conceived from the ruthless, manipulative Livia, to the power crazy Cal and the heroic Claudia. There are deaths, there are inhuman episodes, there is corruption, there is sexual violation and there is love albeit misused.

The tactics used by Nixon during the Watergate scandal are a blueprint for the political drama at Imperial Day school and there is a lot of Trump’s America in there too.

This is a novel of today’s America and if you miss this one you will kick yourself. The ending provides all the answers but leaving some doubt as well. In politics do we ever learn the truth?

For High school students and Young Adults. Just superb. Stunning cover.

Circus Quest Bk1: The Playbill by Maureen Crisp, illus. Irina Burtseva.

September 21, 2018 Comments off

circus quest 1Circus Quest Bk1: The Playbill by Maureen Crisp, illus. Irina Burtseva. Pub. Marmac Media, 2018.

This is the first of 10 books from the Circus Quest series for junior and newly confident readers. Each novel has a clue to solve which leads to the next one.

The Circus Charles will finish if they don’t complete a challenge and if they do complete the challenge they will join the top circus companies at the Circonvention.

Budding trapeze artist Skye and her brother Kestrel who is a clown are responsible for solving a series of clues that will give the circus a chance of survival. On top of that their mother is missing, their father is behaving mysteriously, and a series of accidents

suggests there is a traitor in their midst.

Firstly they have to solve the problem of where the clues are. See if they do.

Easy to read with big font, short chapters and only about 80 pages per book. A great way to get  youngsters into reading.

 

circus quest 2Circus Quest Bk2: Magician’s Moustache.

The first venue of the Circus Charles tour is at the island town of Papenton,  which is famous for it’s hundreds of clocks.

Skye and Kestrel after finding the key to the clues of the challenge to save the circus, deduce that the next clue is in a clock. But which one?

Already the traitor has sabotaged a rope to the big top and other accidents are about to happen. Who is masterminding these acts? There are some shifty characters involved.

Skye deduces the rhyme Hickory Dickory Dock is a clue and if you know the rhyme you the reader are half way there. Skye shows her trapeze skills to find the next clue which is a written code. I solved it but can you?

Another good thing about the series is that the characters are drawn at the front by illustrator Irina Burtseva who captures the characters, the circus and the action very well in black and white pen drawings.

A series to keep an eye on.

Categories: Junior Fiction, Mystery Tags:

The Turnkey by Allison Rushby

September 4, 2018 Comments off

turnkeyThe Turnkey by Allison Rushby. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This award winning novel from Australia is a delight to read. It has a believable plot, interesting characters and is written in a style that is reminiscent of old style writing.

Set during the Blitz in world War 2 it pits the twilight world of the dead against a Nazi plot to win the war.

Flossie Birdwhistle died of rhumatic fever when she was twelve, now she is the Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery responsible for looking after the needs of the dead. She is in the twilight world and can function in the world of the living but cannot be seen or heard.

During a bombing raid of London she sees a Nazi officer on top of St Pauls  and realises he too is of the twilight world. He clutches a bright skull in his hands and when he sees Flossie he vanishes.

What is the meaning of the skull. Is Viktor Brun, the Nazi officer, spying for the Nazis? Can he communicate with the living? and is Highgate cemetery and the other six cemeteries of London involved in a Nazi plot to win the war?

The beginning of each short chapter announces what is going on in the chapter and there are hooks at the end of each chapter to keep you reading. The tension in the plot is spellbinding and the ending is gripping.

For confident junior readers and intermediate readers. Check it out you will be moved.

Detective Gordon: A Case for Buffy by Ulf Nilsson, Illus Gitte Spee.

June 22, 2018 Comments off

buffyDetective Gordon: A Case for Buffy by Ulf Nilsson, Illus Gitte Spee. Pub. Gecko Press, 2018.

This the fourth and last part of this series about Detective Gordon whose domain is the forest and all the animals in it.

The series is noted for it’s humour and it’s good values, as well as the perceptive illustrations of Gitte Spee.

This final story concentrates on Buffy, who is now Chief of police and deeply sad because she cannot remember what happened to her mother and her 15 brothers and sisters. With a little help from two little police, a toad and a mouse, Detective Gordon jogs Buffy’s memory to help find Buffy’s mum and to see if she is still alive.

The search takes them to Cave Island on which dwells a fox  who Buffy remembers caused her and her mother to flee. Detective Gordon has regrets as it was he who drove the fox from his forest and when you drive your danger away, it becomes someone else’s danger.

The fox is sly, as foxes are, but he does have a code “I never eat anything I have spoken to. You do not converse with your lunch”

Is Buffy’s mum alive? where are her brothers and sisters? How will the fox react?

A great read for the newly independent reader.

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.