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Category Archives: Mysteries

The Harlem Charade

Title: The Harlem Charade
Author: Natasha Tarpley
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 3rd- 8th Grade
Pages: 297 pages
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION TARPLEY, N.

Synopsis: Seventh-graders Jin, Alexandra, and Elvin come from very different backgrounds and circumstances, but they all live in Harlem, and when Elvin’s grandfather is attacked they band together to find out who is responsible–and the search leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune, and into conflict with an ambitious politician who wants to turn Harlem into an historic amusement park.

This book is rich in culture.  We have three main characters that come from different backgrounds, that come together by chance.  Jin likes to watch people that come into her grandparents bodega. She catches Alexandra taping Met passes on food items.  Jin now has a mystery to solve to find out why. The three main characters are strong, kind-hearted teenagers.  Throughout the story they learn some history of Harlem artist from the 1960’s and come to appreciate the community.  It is a wonderful way to get children to look around their own communities.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Juv, Mysteries

 

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Horizon

Title: Horizon
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Horizon
Recommended for: 5rd – 8th
Pages: 241 pages
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION WESTERFELD, S.

Summary: When a plane crash-lands in the arctic, eight young survivors step from the wreckage expecting to see nothing but ice and snow. Instead they find themselves lost in a strange jungle with no way to get home and little hope of rescue. Food is running out. Water is scarce. And the jungle is full of threats unlike anything the survivors have ever seen before — from razor-beaked shredder birds to carnivorous vines and much, much worse. With danger at every turn, these eight kids must learn to work together to survive. But cliques and rivalries threaten to tear them apart. And not everyone will make it out of the jungle alive.

My Thoughts:  This is another series like 39 Clues and Spirit Animals that Scholastic is putting out.  There will be a different author for each book in the series as well as an online game.  This being the first book it was laying the ground work and getting you to know the characters a little.  I am definitely intrigued as to what is going to happen next.  I would have liked to get to know more about all the survivors.  There is some details about background information on a few of the characters, but some are still an unknown.  I am hoping that as the series goes on we will get more information.  I feel kids that liked 39 Clues and Spirit Animals will enjoy this series.

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in Adventure, Juv, Mysteries, Sci-Fi

 

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Into the Lion’s Den

into-the-lions-denTitle: Into the Lion’s Den
Author: Linda Fairstein
Series: Devlin Quick Mysteries
Recommended for: 3rd- 6th Grade
Pages: 312 pages
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION FAIRSTEIN, L.

Synopsis: Someone has stolen a page from a rare book in the New York Public Library. At least, that’s what Devlin’s friend Liza thinks she’s seen, but she can’t be sure. Any other kid might not see a crime here, but Devlin Quick is courageous and confident, and she knows she has to bring this man to justice—even if it means breathlessly racing around the city to collect evidence. But who is this thief? And what could the page—an old map—possibly lead to? With her wits, persistence, and the help of New York City’s finest (and, okay, a little bit of help from her police commissioner mother, too), Devlin and her friends piece the clues together to uncover a mystery that’s bigger than anyone expected—and more fun, too.

Devlin is a great strong character who loves books and wants to show that she will make a great detective.  It is a great plot, but I felt like there was a lot of explaining, that was not necessary to the solving of the mystery.  There is a lot of talking trying to decide what to do and how to do things, and a little action.  I am going to try the next one to see if it gets better.  I thinks kids may like it and maybe they won’t find all the explanations unnecessary.

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in Juv, Mysteries

 

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Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle

 

Title: Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle
Author: N.D. Wilson
Series: Outlaws of Time
Recommended for: Tweens and up, especially those who’ve read Percy Jackson/Harry Potter and want more, but any who love action/adventure/fantasy/sci-fi, or are at least willing to try it. Also Firefly Fankids.
Pages: 329
Call Number/Link: J FIC WILSON

Synopsis: “Misfit twelve-year-old Sam Miracle’s life is made up of dreams, dreams where he’s a courageous, legendary hero instead of a foster kid with two bad arms that can barely move. Sometimes these dreams feel so real, they seem like forgotten memories. And sometimes they make him believe that his arms might come alive again. But Sam is about to discover that the world he knows and the world he imagines are separated by only one thing: time. And that separation is only an illusion. The laws of time can be bent and shifted by people with special magic that allows them to travel through the past, present, and future. But not all of these “time walkers” can be trusted. One is out to protect Sam so that he can accept his greatest destiny, and another is out to kill him so that a prophecy will never be fulfilled. However, it’s an adventurous girl named Glory and two peculiar snakes who show Sam the way through the dark paths of yesterday to help him make sure there will be a tomorrow for every last person on earth.” — Amazon.com

My Review:

Hold onto your hats! This book picked me up and spun me around and dropped me into a world of Old West gunfights; time travel; mysterious magic; and more until I didn’t quite know which way was up (in a good way). The adventures are exciting and the story is excellent. While there is a fair bit of violence, it is at the service of the story–that is, it is NOT violence for violence’s sake, and its costs and effects are clearly shown–and the story would probably not be a problem for an average reader.
Time travel, although a very tricky thing to write, is handled well here, too; I have no idea if it jives at all with the laws of physics, but I was able to follow the line of logic without too much trouble, and don’t think it would confuse readers who are used to fantasy or science fiction. As for the characters, the heroes and villains are all very well and clearly drawn without veering into stereotypes (although I think the author let himself have quite a lot of fun with the villains.) The ending, while fairly satisfying, requires a sequel. No ifs, ands, or buts about it; we have to know what happens next!

Highly recommended.

 

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The Relic of Perilous Falls

Title: The Relic of Perilous Falls
Author: Raymond Arroyo
Series: Will Wilder
Recommended for: Adventure-loving children who want more Harry Potter, or who have read everything Rick Riordan’s ever written. Grades 4 and up.
Pages: 318
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION ARROYO, R.

Synopsis: 

Will Wilder seems to be a rather ordinary boy—albeit one clever enough to make his own catapult—until a series of odd events leads to the unleashing of an ancient evil, and the discovery that even the most ordinary of people can hide extraordinary powers.

Will is a believable hero: a typical boy, with common flaws and strengths. He is, to put it mildly, pig-headed and stubborn, and easily swayed by argument; he does, however, have a good heart, and is certainly not lazy or ill-intentioned.

I liked the pace of the adventures, and the cliff-hanger chapters kept my interest. However, the writing did feel a bit clunky at times, as though the author hadn’t yet grown comfortable with this genre. As sequels come, however, I’m sure the lumps and bumps will get smoothed out, and the children clamoring for “SOMETHING ELSE” after Percy Jackson or Harry Potter simply won’t notice or care in this case.

It is a bit dark at times, and might be a bit much for very sensitive readers (crocodile monsters and narrow escapes abound,) but in this battle of Good and Evil, the light always triumphs, and there is nothing a Harry Potter or Percy Jackson fan won’t be able to handle.

We’ll see where this goes; I’d like to see who’s running the show, and leading the good guys, for starters! By the end of the first book, we know who’s in charge of the bad guys, but we’ve only been introduced to individual members of the good, and not much has been revealed about the Brethren.

 
 

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The Underdogs

underdogsTitle:  The Underdogs
Author: Sara Hammel
Series:
Recommended for: 5th grade and up
Pages: 320
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION HAMMEL, S.

Synopsis: The big reveal in this mystery is not who murdered golden girl Annabel Harper at an exclusive Massachusetts tennis club—though that’s startling enough. No, there’s actually a far bigger surprise. In alternating chapters, narrator Chelsea fills readers in on all that happened the weeks before Annabel was found dead by the side of the club’s pool, and after, as a local detective examined motives and opportunities among rising teen tennis stars, rich kids, and club personnel. Annabel was a fixture at the club, where her older brother was a lifeguard, and was especially nice to Chelsea and her best friend, Evie. Beautiful and sweet, Annabel attracted a great deal of attention and jealousy. But who could have disliked her enough to murder her? As with most good cozies, the suspects are numerous and the detective is tenacious. He has to be—as Evie and Chelsea follow him around and make dangerous discoveries on their own. Meanwhile, Evie, who is teased for being overweight, discovers she has a natural gift for tennis, though her tennis pro father seems not to notice. Readers learn more about Chelsea’s mysterious and abusive past before the club’s manager adopted her. The plot is well-thought-out, and though there isn’t a great deal of character development, except in Evie’s case, there doesn’t have to be for this mystery to score. VERDICT Once they get to the end, mystery lovers will want to go back and read it all again to find the hidden clues.

I wasn’t sure about this book at first.  It took me a while to get into it.  It might be because there isn’t a lot of character development except for Chelsea and Evie.  I hung in there through the first couple of chapters to learn more about them.  It was worth it.  I really didn’t see the twist at the end coming, and that doesn’t happen very often.  I would recommend this for mystery lovers and for kids who like books with puzzles and problems to solve.  There aren’t individual puzzles, the book itself is one big puzzle.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Juv, Mysteries

 

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The Lost Twin

lost twin 1_Title:The Lost Twin

Author: Sophie Cleverly

Series:Scarlet and Ivy

Pages: 290 pages

Recommended for: 3rd – 6th Grade

Synopsis:After her troublemaking twin, Scarlet, vanishes from Rookwood Boarding School, shy Ivy tries to track her down, using pieces of Scarlet’s journal carefully hidden all over the school for Ivy to find.

Ivy is invited to go to Rookwood Boarding School to take her twin sisters spot at the school.  Ivy doesn’t want to go, but isn’t given a choice.  Once, she gets their the headmistress tells her she has to pretend that she is Scarlet. Ivy knows something is up, but not sure what to do.  She stumbles pieces of her sisters diary and starts to piece together what happened.

This is set in the 1930, but really the only thing that sticks out as different from modern times is that corporal punishment is still allowed.  It is an interesting story and I would read the next in the series, but it was not a book I couldn’t put down. It is even paced and well written.  I like that Ivy is a strong main character, even thought she doesn’t thing she really is.

 

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Historical, Juv, Mysteries

 

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