Showing posts with label Mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mystery. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2024

Maddie’s Ghost by Carol Saller

Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: I won a copy from the author through LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

When Lainie Stanton receives a call from a TV reporter inviting her to be interviewed as Ohio’s first millennium baby she is flattered. Her Uncs and father are not as thrilled. They see this as possible issue, especially if the reporter’s intentions are not true. Their worst fears come true.  During the  taping of the interview Lainie is faced with pictures of her great-grandmother’s hanging.  Seventy-five years before her great-grandmother was tried and convicted of murder.  Lainie blindsided by this reporter claims she has proof of her grandmother’s innocent. Now she has only a few weeks to make her lie a truth. 

I loved the complexity of this book. The flipping back and forth between historical documents and present time kept me reading. This is definitely a book I will read again in the future. It was just that good.  Definitely need a copy for my classroom shelves.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Student Saturday: The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mystery, Fantasy
Student Reviewer Olivia S.

In the book “The Circus of Stolen Dreams” Andrea is a 12-year-old girl that has suffered many losses, such as her parents divorcing, but she has always had her little brother to stay by her side and to comfort, until he mysteriously disappears one night. Three years later and they still find no trace of him. Andrea has hardened her heart and has shut herself down for three long years struggling with the loss of her shadow, until she smells sweets and popcorn in the air along with a chance of relief. Andrea is given a chance to go into the magical world of Reverie in exchange for a memory, dream, or nightmare, and she knows exactly what she wants to forget. What Andrea does not know is Reverie is not all that it seems and entering the magical world of Reverie means a chance at finding her brother. Willz Andrea find her brother before it’s too late, or will she fall prey to the trap that is Reverie, like so many children before her?

Andrea is a 12-year-old girl from Ohio who during most of the story feels guilty and sad. Throughout the story, Andrea is shown as brave and resilient. She is not afraid to face her fears to find answers. This book reminds me of “Percy Jackson the lightning thief,” since Percy loses his mother and blames himself, while Andrea loses her brother and blames herself. They both lose their loved ones and go through trials to find them. I would recommend this book to nine-year-olds through fourteen-year-olds since this book does not have many plot twists and you can predict what is going to happen before it happens. This book met my expectations, and even though the book was mostly predictable, it was still nice to see Andrea's healing process throughout the story and to see her love for her brother.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Student Saturday: One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus


Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller 
Student Reviewer:  Campbell P.

The book "One of us is next" is a part of a suspenseful mystery series. The story is based on a group of kids called the Bayview four, who recently solved a mystery on their friends' death. It takes place in the town of Bayview in present times and contains much high school drama as well as a dangerous game of truth or dare. The three main characters, Maeve, Knox, and Phoebe are all very determined to solve this mystery of who runs the truth or dare game. This book reminds me of the book A Good Girl's Guide toMurder,   as they both feature friend groups being the target of someone's plan. This is a very suspenseful, yet a must-read book that I would recommend to readers who love thrilling, mystery, and good plot twists.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Watchman's Keep by Alfred M.Struthers


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mystery
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Each book in this series gets better and better. The amount of research that goes into the details in the book are extensive. In this story we find Nathan once again in the thick of things. After the man who had tried to kill him is put in prison, Nathan goes back to his old job of sorting books.  His best friend and side-kick Gina is once again helping him solve a riddle.  Nathan's mentor in all things regarding the bookcase has flown to Europe. He is hot on the trail of Ginette, the sister of Edouard Dampierre who now sits in prison.  Tobe expected she is not there, but in the United States looking for Nathan. One call is all it took to keep Gina and Nathan confined to their house.  Jamieson is sure Ginette is after Nathan and to take over the business her brother was running in the states. Unfortunately for her things are not going to go as planned.

One thing I absolutely love about the books is the massive amount of research that goes into each one. The author has compiled information in the back of the book to help those less acquainted with fine art. I may not have known the artwork of many of them mentioned, but understood what sgrafitto and slump molds were. Both have been used by my husband and myself when we owned a ceramic business and my husband worked with glass.  The complexity of each book increases, which is why I said it is for young adults as well.  The danger level rises, more secrets are unpacked. I look forward to reading the next one in this series, "Tears of the Empress".  To learn more about this author and his wonderful books, check out his website.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab


Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: I own a copy

Yea! This is a book I can keep on my shelves at school. Especially since this is another that one of my students told me I needed to read over Spring Break.  I have always loved ghost stories so this was perfect for my very first Victoria Schwab book. Yes, I will have to go back and check out her other books.  We have Cassidy, the child of Ghost Hunter parents.  The funny thing is they are clueless that their daughter can talk to ghosts. Her best friend Jacob is a ghost. Cassidy had a near death experience when she drowned. Ever since she can pull back the veil betwee the two worlds. Cassidy travels  to Scotland for the filming of her parent's show where she meets Lara. Lara seems to be just like her. 

Since I have a very bad habit of getting overly excited and spilling all the good things in a story, I will stop right there. I'll let you read all about her wonderful adventures in Edinburgh, Scotland. Let’s just say that this is not the end of Cassidy’s story. The author has two other books in this series and I will soon be reading and reviewing them. They too are in our system and can stay on my shelves.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Noises From the Other Side by Tabatha Shipley


Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing

This was one of the quirkiest books I have read in a long time. Annie Lewis and her mother move into a duplex after her parents split up. It's bad enough being pulled away from all of your friends your senior year. However, Annie begins hearing noises from the other side of the duplex that is empty. I have lived in duplexes before and they can be quite creepy.

This is where things are quirky, and I mean that in a good way. I believe it is a ghost, so I read on trying to figure out who would be haunting the place. Like Annie I missed so many clues along the way. The author did a great job building the world in this book. It takes place in reality and then also in an alternate reality. That's all I will say about that. I didn't see the person who ends up as the antagonist as the one. The pacing and the twists and turns kept me reading non-stop. I literally read this book in a little over four hours. Would I recommend this book? Definitely! I love the way this author thinks as they write. Awesome book!

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Student Saturday: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Student Reviewer: Omar G.
Genre: Adult, Mystery

In the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, I have learned about a boy who was a shepherd. His name is Santiago, and he has been leading his sheep for almost two years looking for water and food. Later on there is a sentence I found interesting. It states “the secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.” It’s confusing without the background, but it basically explains to enjoy the big things but not to forget the little things, I think this relates to my life because I always feel as if I can’t enjoy the little things.

This book strongly relates to my life where it talks about how Santiago went on this journey to find treasure but found something greater. But in reality, what’s actually happening is he is heading toward self-discovery learning who he is because of this journey. I think this relates to me because I feel as if this journey I am on, me living will lead me to self-discovery, just like Santiago on his journey. Another thing the book talks about is how when Santiago is presented with a new change he isn’t scared off, but instead sees it as an opportunity to learn from it as he did from his previous experiences. In my life as I grow I will have positive and negative experiences. Regardless I will learn from it and use that to my advantage in the next challenge.

In the book Santiago is presented with many obstacles. Some which almost made him quit his journey. He had a rough moment that almost made him quit but instead he decided to settle down an reevaluate his plans for his journey. This shows he doesn’t let this fear hold him back, but instead pauses to rethink before deciding to quit. This relates to me; for instance I have had my fears and things that have made me quit something I am aiming for, but there are times when I decide to just sit back and think, reflect on what to do.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Student Saturday: Count All Her Bones by April Henry

Student Reviewer: Sophia H.

The main character is Cheyenne. She is blind, has a service dog and a bodyguard named Jadra. Her trouble begins the night Griffen Sawyer sole a car, and accidently stole Cheyenne who was in the back seat. He panicked and took her home where is father held her for money. Griffen helped her escape. Now his father is awaiting trial. Griffen's father won't give up so he has his henchmen capture her again.  This time he doesn't want money, he wants her dead. Will she survive? What about Griffen?

This book is similar to a lot of real-world events. For example, a blind Portland girl named Heather Wilson was kidnapped when she was in the back seat of her mother's car and it was hijacked. I recommend this book to anyone 11-100 years old. It is great for a light night read. The best in my opinion.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Student Saturday: The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

Student Reviewer: Sophie H.

A 16 year old teenage girl wakes up in a cabin in the middle of the woods. She has no memory of who she is or how she got here. She is tied up, scared and confused. She has obviously been tortured and as she regains consciousness she overhears  two guys talking about killing her. She tries to stay one step ahead of the people after her. Aong the way she meets this guy named Ty. He helps her find a safe place to stay. The teenage girl is very strong and reminds me of the trait of perseverance. She goes 100% at any challenge she faces despite the difficulty or delay in her success. This reminds me of families. You have to trust your family because of how much you love and care for them. She also had to trust her fellow peer, Ty to help her get to a safe place and survive this mess she is in. I would recommend this book to my peers and young adults.


Monday, January 9, 2023

Kondi's Secret By Sylvia Stewart


Genre: Middle Grade, Christian, Mystery
Source: I own a copy

This is the third book in this trilogy. The author starts us off with a heart-stopping scene. Kondi is trying to cross the street to get to her house. She has just come from school. She sees her young brother in the front yard playing with a stick. She tries to call to him and tell him to go back to the house. Her brother hears her voice and sees her and heads for the ditch. The water filled ditch has a current that whips his feet out from under him. In a panic she darts across the street getting whacked by one car. She dives into the ditch grabbing for her brother. She saves her drowning brother but is injured.  My heart was ready to stop. I was so scared for both Kondi and her baby brother. It was obvious how much she loves her baby brother.

Kondi's best friend from the first book finds herself entangled in the same issue Kondi does. They and their family will need to rely on God when secrets become dangerous.

I love, love, love this series.  I need to see if this author has more.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Kondi's Joy by Sylvia Stewart


Genre: Middle Grade, Christian, Mystery
Source: I own a copy

This is the second book in this trilogy. Kondi has discovered the artist in her father. She openly embroiders and she and her mother have convinced her father to move to the city where he can set up shop and sell his paintings to tourists.  She is hesitant about leaving her friends behind and her church. Upon arriving at their new house she meets Maria a young girl her age who befriends her. We learn just how evil her uncle is and how God protects his own. A wonderful book that is full of hope. The author didn't sugar coat things. Often people wonder why God allows things to happen. Other people think that becoming a Christian means no more troubles. The author handled both of these ideas in her book with expertise. I can't wait to read the third book. These are quick reads and I highly recommend them.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Student Saturday: The Girl in the White Van by April Henry


Student Reviewer: Sophia H.

Savannah is a teenage girl who was kidnapped outside her Kung Fu class that she takes weekly. She needs to figure out how to escape herself, but also a girl named Jenny that has been there long before her. This story takes place in a trailer with a bunch of broken down cars around it, almost like a junk yard.

After Savannah has an argument with her mom's weird boyfriend she goes to her King Fu class. When she goes missing, people believe that she ran away because of the argument. They finally realize she was kidnapped. Her kidnapper has a vicious dog named Rex. After she is kidnapped she wakes up to find Jenny. Jenny nearly died trying to escape from the trailer. Will the two girls escape? They will have to work together to escape even if it ends badly.  

This book made me think of my 19-year-old who was being controlled by her boyfriend. She ran away for three months. These two settings are similar because they both are very harsh and sad stories. No matter who it happens to it will always be dramatic. I recommend this book to people who like a good mystery and a plot twist. It is a very good book for when you have time to keep reading because it keeps getting better and better. This book is good for ages 11-100. Maybe have some one read it to your from ages 80-100.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

The Lonely Dead by April Henry

Genre: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: I purchased a copy

I love April Henry's books. I chose this book for my "First Chapter Friday" read. I want to entice my students to read more. I had this at home to read and loved the first chapter. Since we read the rest of the period after I read the first chapter, it was the perfect time for me to finish the book. 

Adele is a young girl who lives with her grandfather. Both of her parents are dead. When she was young her grandfather took her to a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with schizophrenia. They determined it ran in the family. But what if it isn't schizophrenia? What if her ability to see and speak to the dead is real. She has taken medication for years to keep her from seeing and hearing the dead. All it took was for her to miss one dose and realize how much of life she has missed out on for her to make a conscious decision to not take any more.  

Adele is invited by her former best friend to a party at her house. After a few drinks that lead to a mistake she can't take back, she is ousted from her friend's house in front of everyone at the party. It isn't until she is walking home through the park that she comes across her friend. The problem is that her friend is dead.  Now Adele has become the prime suspect and possibly the target of the real killer.

The characters were spot on. You have Adele who has gone through a lot of hardships. Then you have her ex-best friend Tori who has issues of her own. All of the characters are believable. April Henry did such a wonderful job of creating her setting I could see it in my head. What I like most is the tension she creates in her novels. It steadily builds. It eases up just a bit then full steam ahead again. There are so many more of her books for me to read. I just have to get them away from my students. It seems that once you talk up any of her books the kids can't keep their hands off of them.  I highly recommend this and all of her books.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Alex Was Here by Christopher Francis


Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: I purchased a copy

I enjoyed this second book by Christopher Francis. The characters were familiar. However, as the story progressed we watched them change for both the good and the bad. I teach middle grade and so this story depicted sixth graders quite well. Alex and Daisy in the first book "Remembering Kaylee Cooper" had to help the little girl return to her parents at Screaming Ridge. Unfortunately, this event created more havoc at Screaming Ridge. It seems a portal was opened and the whole of Timpleville found themselves in danger. The way the author chose to tie this all up was genius. This is the third book I have read by this author. I currently have five others to read. I can't wait.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Remembering Kaylee Cooper by Christopher Francis


Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery, Ghost Story
Source: I purchased a copy

I have to say I am really enjoying my summer selection of books.  Christopher Francis is a very talented author. His story about a young boy who is being followed by a young and annoying girl made my day today. Kaylee inadvertently trips Alex in the Cafeteria one day at school. This created a mess on him, his friends and landed him in the principal's office.  She follows him everywhere.  As the story goes on we are introduced to Daisy, the girl Alex has a crush on. He also is best friends with her step-brother Henry. Then we are introduced to the school Bully Damian and his side-kick Jared. Madelyn is a new girl in school. During Their Mythology class they are discussing urban legends. She tells them one about the house on screaming ridge. She tells them about the family that lived and died there.  This set a whole lot of things in motion. The fact that Alex almost drowned in the river has caused him to react differently to things.

This is a ghost story, but not the creepy, don't go in the house kind of story. This is the story of a ghost who doesn't realize they are a ghost. This is a story of those who have had contact in one form or another with ghosts or who have had near death experiences. This is one of those stories that will keep the reader reading from beginning to end. The characters are believable, the setting is well thought out. Christopher Francis is an author who definitely knows what he is doing.  I purchased his books in ebook format but will definitely be purchases paperback copies for my shelves this year.

Monday, June 13, 2022

The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown

Genre: Horror, Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: I purchased a copy

India Hill Brown has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I purchased this book after reading "The Girl In the Lake.  I love a good ghost story.  The difference between other ghost stories and the type that this author writes is the historical message.  Her characters are African American.  Her ghost stories came about because of an injustice. In the case of this story, Iris and her neighbor and best friend Daniel break the rules and go out the night of the first snow. To make matters worse they sneak into the forest across the street so their parents won't see them. What they end up finding while making snow angels is a grave of a young girl named Avery. Now Iris is being haunted. The grave is that of a young girl who was buried in a segregated cemetery. Avery doesn't want to be forgotten. That is why she is haunting Iris.  

If you think this is a long gone issue think again. Iris knows what it is like to be forgotten. She is the captain of her middle school's step team.  Her mom notices on the TV news her middle school and all the club captains being recognized. That is, all except her and her step team. It seems that they are always being forgotten. Emails just seem to get lost. I know for a lot of people who are white like me they often don't see the big deal in this. I do. I have never understood why people feel they should judge other's worth based on their skin color.  I am aware there are many African American Cemeteries that have been run down, forgotten about, or evern worse. bulldozed away to make room for other buildings.  I like the fact that this author isn't afraid to to address these issues. If there is one thing I hope her books do for the kids who read them is spur them into noticing these injustices and working toward a solution. I look forward to many more books by this author, and I look forward to putting them into the hands of my students. Awesome book!

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Girl in the White Van by April Henry

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mystery
Source: I purchased a copy

I absolutely love this author’s books.  She takes young people and puts them in situations that are a nightmare in themselves.  Savannah is a young girl who is kidnapped. She is taken out to an old trailer where she finds Jenny. She is another kidnap victim and has been held for ten months. Savannah and Jenny are completely different. Savannah takes Kung Fu and so she fights back.  Jenny seems to have just given up until she meets Savannah.  As they try to escape knowing the danger the tension is brought to a whole new level. Just like in her book, “The Night She Disappeared” the author has given us a character in Savannah that is willing to fight back. This action keeps the story moving forward. I love how her characters are strong girls, or girls who find the strength to do what they didn’t know they could do. I had to wait until the summer to read this because my students handed it from one to the other.  I can make sure to get this book into the hands of my students.  

Friday, June 10, 2022

The Lake Never Tells by Alex Tully


Genre:  Young Adult, Mystery
Source: I received a copy from LibraryThing to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I won this book from LibraryThing a while back and finally got the chance to read it. I am sorry I waited so long. I sat and read it through in four hours. I will definitely be looking for more work by this author. I couldn't sleep and got up at 5AM and started reading this book. I am so glad I did.

Zoe and Patrick have about five years difference in their ages. They are like sibling. They live in the same trailer park. Meredith is Zoe's best friend, the daughter of the local sheriff and tormenter to Parker. Ethan is the rich kid who spends his summer at the lake with his twin sister and divorce attorney parents.

All of these kids have issues. Zoe's mother wants her to call her Debbie instead of mom. Zoe is okay with this because she has pretty much raised herself. Her mom drinks and parties with Zoe's friends. Parker lives with his grandmother since his mother died.

Ethan is recovering some something that happened to him the year before. That is the main reason they are at the lake. He still has to see his psychiatrist each week. Together these kids join together as friends and help each other deal with things that have happened to them in the past.

Then Parker finds a dead body on the beach and things really take a change.  I loved the relationship between Parker and Zoe. They truly did act like siblings.  I enjoyed Ethan's attitude. Where Parker and Zoe envied the things that Ethan and his sister own, they soon realize that no matter how much money you have everyone has problems.  Parker's grandmother Shirley was the glue that held them all together. You just didn't see it until farther into the story. I definitely didn't like Zoe's mom and didn't care for Zoe's best friend Meredith. The author did a great job of making them unlikable.  Through the eyes of these kids we learn that when it comes to people, no matter hat your financial situation, people act the same. You have your good people, your weak and needy people, your selfish people and your just down rotten people. The only difference as my dad would say is the size of their toys.  I highly recommend this book. Although I could have done without the F-bomb, it wasn't used so much it took away from the book. If I was going to criticize anything it was the repetitive way the author switched from one character to another. I probably would not have noticed this a few years ago until it was pointed out I had done this with my own first book.  Still it didn't annoy me to the point of taking away a star in my rating. Like I said, I look forward to sharing this book with my students. It is definitely recommended for the older students due to some language and situations. However, I consider it a must read.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

The Girl In The Lake by India Hill Brown


Genre:  Middle Grade, Mystery/Horror
Source: I purchased a copy

Celeste and her brother Owen are spending the summer at their grandparent's lake house along with their cousins Daisy and Capri.  Celeste is not interested in spending tine at the lake. She can't swim. She failed her swim test. Her brother Owen loves the idea of swimming since he passed his test. He is not interested in hiking with his grandfather. He has a fear of mountain lions. He doesn't know if there are any, but why take a risk?  Daisy is the kind and courteous one but she fears storms. Capri is a lot like Celeste. She fears failure.  Will these four learn to face their fears? What does a ghost who looks like Celeste have to do with everything that is happening at the lake house?
I bought this book for my classroom from the book fair. Before I had a chance to take it home and read it a student asked to check it out. I ended up buying a second one and taking it home so that I could read it. I just now got around to it.  I now know why my students kept telling me I needed to read this book. I read it in under three hours. It was that good.  Great mystery/horror story. Kept me on the edge of my seat.   I highly recommend this book.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Cece Louise

 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery

Source: I received a copy from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I had a conversation with two colleagues on the last day of school. All three of us were discussing the types of books we like to read and our choices for the summer. None of us like gushy romance. What I read in Cece Louise’s book, In A Dark, Dark Wood is the exact type of book I will recommend to them. Calia is trying to save her sisters. She goes to the castle hoping to secure employment for herself and her sisters. Instead she concocts a plan that will secure her sister’s well-being, free her brother from a prisoner ship and solve an issue for the King and Queen. Since she resembles their missing daughter, she will go to Ebonwood to marry the prince in their daughter’s place. This is important since their kingdom is on the edge of ruin.

                Calia is not exactly welcomed by the Prince. At first he come off as very cynical.  As I read further into his story I realized the effect abusive words and betrayal had on him. It is Calia, a survivor who has the ability to change all of that. She is willing to sacrifice everything, including herself for her siblings. How far will she go to help this prince she is slowly falling in love with?

                This book had it all for me. A touch of romance that builds slowly and is not shoved in your face. A mystery that must be solve. Since I had not read this author before I was surprised by how well written the mystery is. I was completely blindsided. I loved the darkness of this book. To me there is a difference between downright evil feeling darkness in a book and mysterious, murderous darkness. This had that dark gothic feel that I love.  Can’t wait to share this with my two friends. I love this author enough I have purchased the first three books in this series to read.