By: RA Spratt
Book One Friday Barnes
Friday Barnes is eleven and incredibly smart. Her parents were incredibly smart but distant parents and Friday basically raised herself. There is one person she enjoys spending time with, Uncle Bernie, who is a private investigator, which is how Friday finds herself solving a bank robbery. With the reward she sends herself to an incredibly exclusive boarding school.
She thought she would just be going to school, somewhere away from her family. There though she finds the school is filled with crime and she finds she has a taste for investigating it. Then there is the boy who hates Friday for some reason and really likes playing nasty pranks. High school isn’t turning out to be what exactly Friday thought it would be.
This was a thoroughly entertaining book. Friday is possibly the kind of girl I’d have loved to have been. Mysteries make more sense than people and keep things interesting. The pace Spratt sets is brisk and the variety of things happening are enough to keep you turning the pages.
A fun mystery read that I would recommend without hesitation.
Published: 1st July 2014
Publisher: Random House
Key Words: Mystery, Crime, High School
By: Amanda Hocking
A travelling carnival is a strange place to grow up in but it is the only home Mars Besnick knows. The carnival though is a place of mysteries and secrets, filled with people with hidden, or not so hidden powers. Mara doesn’t think she has any powers but she gets along. In this last stop though she meets a boy, Gabe Alvarado and chemistry happens. He’s not the first boy she’s been drawn to but he is the first to reach her so deeply. The more time they spend together the more Mara realises she isn’t the only one with secrets and Gabie’s family legacy could destroy her world. As carnival folk go missing, get attacked or even wind up dead Mara is determined to figure out exactly what is going on.
Set in 1982 this world is close to the one we live in, making characters and settings familiar. The mystery of the carnival draws us in, the many characters add wonderful colour to a tale that could be much bleaker without them. Mara is likeable and her hesitation about getting involved with Gabe is believable. Her determination draws you along as the darkness expands and the story unfolds. I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of mystery and supernatural.
Recommended if you like those genres.
Publisher: Pan MacMillan
Published: 31st January 2017
Key Words: Supernatural, Mystery
By: Oliver Jeffers
Something is happening in the woods. Something is happening to the trees. Something must be done so the animals get together to investigate. At first they find nothing, no clues, then they catch a break. Bear hasn’t meant to cause trouble, he’s just trying to practice for the great paper plane race. He really wants to win. Will bear achieve what he wants, and will he stop taking the trees?
A fun mystery story, with easy to read text. Jeffers stylised illustrations are always wonderful and tell the story more completely than just the text can. An enjoyable read.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: 1st Nov 2009
Key Words: Crime, Mystery, Paper Planes
By: Alice Hoffman
Twig is isolated, she doesn’t really have friends. It’s not that she isn’t loved it’s just her family has a secret. Twig’s mother is the most beautiful woman in their town and is famous for her apple pies and honey butter, that doesn’t stop the talk and that doesn’t stop the mystery. Everything changes though when Julia and Agate move in next door. Twig has never had friends before and their influence brings her out of her shell. These girls are bound together even more so as the secrets reach the surface and lives will be changed forever.
Hoffman has created a twisting and enchanting tale. Twig pulls at the emotions as you want her to embrace these new friends but as you are drawn into the family story and it’s secret heart. It is a story that whilst removed from the familiar and the possible parallels in our world where difference is at the heart of so many problems. This is a story that can simply be read and enjoyed as it comes to its emotional and uplifting crescendo or you can look deeper into its themes and use it to springboard some solid discussion of weightier matters.
An enchanting read and recommended.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 1st March 2015
Key Words: Family, Mystery
I received a copy of this from the publisher.
By: Lauren Oliver & HC Chester
A museum and freak show may be a strange place to grow up but it is what Phillipa, Sam and Thomas are used to. They are all gifted in some strange way and know that Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities and Wonders is where they belong. One day though a young girl, a gifted knife thrower named Max, joins them and this seems to start a series of events that change everything, beginning with the theft of the museum’s Amazonian Shrunken Head. The children are determined to get it back. This investigation though tangles them up in murder and a secret about their past. They are more connected than they could ever know.
Children as part of a freak show, another way to say mutants? This story though is very solidly set in a time and place where their gifts mark them as freaks. They don’t belong and everything about this tale is part of their struggle to find their place. Each child has their own issues and together they make a good team, if somewhat hesitant and fractured due to their insecurities. This is a good read, though has a dark feel about it, not just due to the crime but to the nature of a world where different is viewed as somehow wrong or something that should be put on display. These children will draw you in and at the end you are left wanting to know more about their past and how that will affect their future.
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published: 13 Oct 2015
Key Words: Adventure, Mystery
I received this book from the publisher
By: Chris Riddell
Book 3 in the Goth Girl series.
Ada Goth is the only child of renowned writer Lord Goth and she lives at Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Ada is a smart girl, rather self reliant and is looking forward to seeing her father who will be home for Christmas. The other thing happening at the hall for Christmas is a literary dog show. Famous authors from all over will be bringing their beloved pets to the hall to see which one deserves the title best in show. Ada though is also excited for the fact her best friend will be coming back to the hall for the holidays.
Things don’t really go as planned though as strange things start to happen; howls in the nights, shoes that have been chewed and mysterious paw prints. Something is going on and Ada is determined to figure it out as well as having some fun along the way.
A wonderfully enchanting tale, filled with absurdities that are Riddell’s signature, accompanied by his distinctive and quirky illustrations. Ada is a steady, relatable character in amongst the slightly off centre story and supporting cast. Riddell’s books are always entertaining, a real pleasure to read, picture books to chapter books. A truly fun read.
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s
Published: 29th Sept 2015
Format: Hardcover, 220 pages
Genre: Humour, Christmas, Family, Mystery
I received my copy from the publisher.
On the way to David’s house Andrea sees some strange men hanging around in the back lane. This freaks Andrea out, she thinks there is something very wrong with what she has seen but she has no evidence to back up her feelings. She tries to forget about. Then a few days later David has gone. He is just not to be found. David’s grandfather tells her not to worry but she can’t help it, something about this whole whinge feels very wrong. She ropes in Martin and Kitty to help. The first thing they need to do is find out some information about the new boy Skender, he is hiding something and his family speak the same language as the men Andrea saw in the alley. The friends are determined to find out what is going on and rescue their missing mate.
This is a tightly written mystery that wraps its fingers around you and before you know it, you too know something is wrong and you have to find out what it is. Each of the characters has strengths and weaknesses and they balance each other out. The addition of Sam, who comes across as very self obsessed, brings a strange kind of lightness to the tale. The underlying story has dark edges that can actually be a springboard to interesting conversations with your kids about what is going on in the world. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Publisher: Allen and Unwin Children’s Books
Published: 01 May 2014
Format: Paperback 216 pages
ISBN 13: 9781743316931
Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page
I was sent this book by the publisher
By: Fletcher Moss
Dalton Fly has a job, it’s not one that guarantees a long life but for an orphan it is better than nothing. Dalton is a food taster for the rich. He has the unenviable job of testing to ensure food and drink on the tables of the wealthy is not poisoned. Dalton has had a narrow escape, his mate wasn’t so lucky. This though thrusts Dalton into a world he has only ever been part of on the fringes. Along with his best mate and Scarlet Dropmore, one of the rich and privileged, he sets out to find who killed his friend only to discover he has wandered into something far bigger and way more unexpected than his wildest dreams could ever have come up with.
From the first blood filled moments this book takes the reader on quite a ride. The world Moss has created is gritty, grotty as you would expect when the characters come from the poorer parts of the world. It is contrast to the the parties and lifestyle of the wealthy whose lives they end up meddling in. Dalton and his best mate Sal are a great team, Dalton’s courage and Sal’s smarts are a good balance. I like their loyalty, it is a thread that runs through the story and gives Dalton a more rounded character which he needs as the story progresses. The plot is tight and action packed. If you are looking for a mystery dashed in blood and back handed goings on, this is well worth a look.
Publisher: Chicken House Ltd
Published: 04 April 2013
Format: Paperback 352 pages
Categories: Adventure, Mystery, Crime, Fantasy
ISBN 13: 9781908435446
Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on side of page
I received my copy from the publisher
By: Patrick Ness
A boy, feeling desperate and totally alone, drowns. His final moments painful and then he dies. Then without reason he wakes. Alone still, naked, bruised and thirsty. Nothing makes sense in this moment. How is this even possible. The place he wakes to is vaguely familiar but deserted. The boy struggles to understand what is happening to him. He manages to pull himself together sort of but what is the point of this? Does all this mean there is still some hope? What is this life after death?
And that is all I will say about the plot. Sometimes a book comes along where it doesn’t matter how you slice it telling any more than the bare minimum will be to give spoilers. This is another masterpiece from the wonderful pen of Patrick Ness. The world is visceral, you can see and feel just what he wants you to. You are for the most part as uncertain as The Boy. As he uncovers bits and pieces you may think you see where it is going before you find yourself twisted around and facing a new direction. Ness writes with a masterful hand but he is a writer who makes you think. This is not just book you pick up and flip through the pages, this is a book that requires the reader to be engaged in the story, and because of it’s complexity and the wonderful way Ness strings his words together, that is in no way a chore.
As always a wonderful and intriguing read.
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Published: 05 September 2013
Format: Hardback 480 pages
ISBN 13: 9781406331158
Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page
By: Andrew Hammond
CRYPT series Book 3
It seems to start in a hospital with a masked figure moving determinedly towards a quarantined patient. A nurse dies and she is just the beginning. And just what does a new and very exclusive jewellery shop have to do with any of this. CRYPT are busy as it is but with this new outbreak of paranormal activities they are stretched thin. Jud and Bex start in London but the trail eventually leads them to Venice, and the horrible secrets it still keeps about it’s history. The Black Plague is back and these mysterious figures are doing what they have always been tasked to do – deal with it. It is up to Jud and Bex to find the source and figure out a way to give these ghosts rest.
The Black Plague was a dark time in history and some of the things about that time are even more unsavoury than might be expected. Jud is proving to be not just a good agent but also a very instinctive investigator, with Bex to balance him out they make a good team. Jud has his own issues as always to do with his past and he is still managing to keep them close to his chest, though Bex is beginning to notice things. The history of these events is fascinating and Hammond does a credible job of packaging them into a modern context. The story is gruesome in it’s detail and quiet graphic in some of its horror, but that is why we read stories like these. Bex is more level headed than Jud but it is often Jud’s gung-ho nature that pushes things along. The creepy imagery encapsulates the darkness of these moments in time and if you like horror books then I definitely think you should give these a go.
(But shhh don’t tell anyone who reads it that they may learn something.)
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
Published: 11 December 2012
Format: Paperback 336 pages
Categories: Adventure, Horror, Ghost
ISBN 13: 9780755378234
Purchase: here or use Booktopia link on the side of the page