They say she’s cursed…

9781925324976Title: Black
Author: Fleur Ferris
Interest Level:  Year 8 +

Death follows Ebony Marshall. That’s what the whispers say anyway. Three of her best friends have died in tragic accidents. She’s not just bad luck; she’s cursed; she’s Black.

Once it bothered her, but now Black’s used to being on her own and she’s gotten very good at pushing people away. That is, until a new boy comes to school. He’s interesting and persistent, he won’t be pushed away. But after he’s rushed to hospital, the whispers get louder… Who or what is behind these deaths? Black doesn’t know who to trust and she can’t fight on her own anymore. Can she solve this mystery before death comes for her too? Or is she really cursed..?

A gripping read from start to finish, you’ll find that this thriller has teeth. Enter Black’s lonely world, set in the small Victorian town of Dainsfield, where a young girl’s hope of moving on becomes a fight for survival. In her second thrilling novel, Fleur Ferris grips her audience and causes you to question: who you really trust? If you’re a fan of thrillers or crime novels, then this fast-paced mystery will be perfect for you.

Highly Recommended: **** (ofr)

An fast-paced steampunk adventure

warp book 1TITLE = WARP (Book 1): The Reluctant Assassin

AUTHOR = EOIN COLFER

GENRE = STEAMPUNK, ADVENTURE, TIME TRAVEL 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7, 8  

16 yo Chevie Savano is not particularly happy when she is sent to babysit a strange machine in London. Having been trained as a junior FBI agent, Chevie was expecting a bright future as an agent but an unfortunate incident has meant she must be shipped offshore until the dust has settled.

Babysitting a strange-looking machine seems pretty tedious and boring, especially with her dour supervisor, Felix Smart, but Chevie is in for a surprise: suddenly the machine awakens and life will never be the same again. This odd contraption is actually a time machine, built by Felix Smart’s father who was biding his time in Victorian England … until two would-be assassin’s were sent to kill him. One of these (a young boy, Riley) comes hurtling through the machine screaming about being chased by his partner in crime (and brutal mentor) Albert Garrick.

Will anyone believe him? Can Chevie and Riley trust each other enough to survive the threat to their lives (and the lives of many others)? And if they have to go back to Victorian England … will they be able to return?

Moving swiftly between modern times and Victorian England, Riley and Chevie make credible (and talented) heroes. They stumble from one adventure to another and just as it looks like they may be making headway … another roadblock emerges. Steampunk fans are sure to enjoy the twisting turning plot and the depiction of Victoran times …especially the villainous Battering Rams.

Fast and furious … with clever (and smart-mouthed) heroes, this book is a must read (for steampunk fans in particular).

Highly Recommended ****

Mycroft and Watts are at it again!

every wordTITLE = EVERY WORD

AUTHOR = ELLIE MARNEY

GENRE = CRIME, MYSTERY, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, RELATIONSHIPS

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10+

An exciting, nail-biting sequel in a brilliant crime series – fans will be delighted and new fans will be won over. The action has moved to London where Mycroft and Watts have a crime to solve but this takes a back seat to battling their demons: Mycroft has plenty of angst in his family history to make him surly and unsure whilst Watts is agonising over their on-again-off-again relationship. Throw in a couple of nasty thugs, a kidnapping, an explosion or two … suddenly the lions they faced in book 1 are looking pretty tame by comparision with their London adventures.

Will Mycroft and Watts survive intact … will their relationship?

Check out the following book trailer for further clues:

(Images by dma or from the Animotot website, Music (Beethoven, Symphony No 5) sourced from thewebsite too.

Read a review of book 1 (Every Breath) here. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the final instalment in this exciting crime series.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An exciting new crime series

travis delaney 1TITLE = TRAVIS DELANEY INVESTIGATES: #1 – THE ULTIMATE TRUTH

AUTHOR = KEVIN BROOKS

GENRE = DETECIVE, MYSTERY, CRIME, FAMILY, GRIEF

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 9

Travis Delaney is heart-broken at the sudden death of his parents in a car accident. But was it an accident? The Delaney’s ran a private investigator’s agency and there are several questions hanging over their last case. Partly to take his mind off his own personal grief, Travis decides to do some investigating himself … but is he in over his head??

This is a fast-paced action adventure novel, the first instalment in what looks like being an exciting series. Travis is a credible and likeable kid: his grief is raw and he has a good heart. But his opponents are realistically portrayed too, so the danger he faces is all too real.

Sure to be a hit with both girls and boys. Check out the book trailer below:

Music (“Polonium 210”  by Alan Gould & Roger Roger) sourced from the Animoto site, as were the images for this book trailer.

Highly Recommended (dma) ***** 

An unusual narrative approach for a cleverly twisted mystery

cry blue murderTITLE = CRY BLUE MURDER

AUTHOR = KIM KANE & MARION ROBERTS

GENRE = CRIME, MYSTERY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8 – 10

This is an unusual mystery story with a powerful sting awaiting readers in the final pages. Part of the uniqueness of the story lies in the way it is told for it does not use the normal narrative path. It opens with a list of witnesses followed by a Facebook page, which has been set up following the disappearance of a Melbourne schoolgirl. Two contributors to the Facebook page become online friends And much of the story is revealed via their emails and texts to each other. Celia is a schoolgirl in Melbourne, upset by the local mystery and as a new girl at her school, feeling a tad friendless and lonely. She is pleased to have an eager audience in Alice, who used to live in Melbourne but is now at a boarding school in Mildura. Both are having a difficult time with their families so much of the story unfolds slowly as the 2 girls discuss their lives. The central mystery slips to the background until a second girl disappears. 

Interspersed between the emails are newspaper articles and interview transcripts with witnesses and/or possible suspects, so the reader is in a good position to play detective. Whether they will see the shock coming at the end of the story remains to be seen!

An entertaining story told in an unusual way.

Recommended (dma) ***

A gripping read

KILLING-WOODS-Final2-196x300TITLE = THE KILLING WOODS

AUTHOR = LUCY CHRISTOPHER

GENRE = CRIME, MYSTERY, ADVENTURE, HORROR  

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10+

This is a clever but quite chilling tale told by 2 key characters: Emily and Damon. Emily is the daughter of a battle-shattered man who has been arrested for the murder of a teenager in the woods behind their house. The doctors and police have decided that her dad’s wounded mind has led him to mistakenly kill the girl whilst in the throes of a flashback. Emily refuses to believe that her dad is guilty of the murder so she wants answers: why was the teenage girl (Ashlee Parker) in the woods on that night anyway? Was her dad simply trying to save the girl as he had saved many woodland creatures in the past?

Damon was Ashlee’s boyfriend. He too wants answers – whilst he firmly believes that Emily’s father is the guilty party, he was actually in the woods with Ashlee on that fateful night  … but a combination of drink and drugs means he cannot clearly remember what happened. He is haunted by the suspicion that he could or should have saved her. Worse still, could he have anything to do with her death?

Can Emily and Damon trust each other enough to find answers for both of them? And what about their own close friends – are they helping or hindering the police investigation … can they be trusted?

A gripping story which is a real page-turner from go to whoa. Like Emily and Damon, the reader will be keen to piece together the events which have led to Ashlee’s death, but will we see the truth before they do?

Why not check out the author’s website to learn more about this gripping novel and her other award winning books?

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An exciting horror adventure awaits … if you dare to read….

screaming staircaseTITLE = LOCKWOOD & CO. : The Screaming Staircase (Book 1)

AUTHOR = JONATHAN STROUD

GENRE = GHOSTS, FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL, ADVENTURE, HORROR

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 – 10

A bit of horror, a bit of humour and a whole lot of adventure … this book has it all. Set in a world where ghosts come out to play at night, and they like to play nasty, scary, life threatening games! Lockwood and Co is a small company of psychic investigators; for a price they will come in and rid your home of those nasty spectres, they will banish the ghosts to eternity.

Well, that is what Lucy has trained for and that is why she has joined forces with the dashing Anthony Lockwood and his side-kick, their researcher, George. The three teenagers hope to make a name for themselves, even though they are working solo, without the usual adult supervisor. However, it is hard to be taken seriously when your exploits have a tendency to go slightly awry. Customers may want the ghosts to disappear but they don’t necessarily want their house to be burnt down in the process!

This is the predicament they find themselves in early in the novel. To avoid going out of business, they must solve a mystery and take on the scariest challenge ever: a challenge that has already taken the lives of many other ghost seekers. Can they survive the night on the renowned “screaming staircase”? Will Lockwood lead his charges safely or will they pay with their lives for his recklessness?

An exciting adventure awaits readers … and the best news is, this is the first in a series of books by Jonathan Stroud – so there are plenty more to come. This book has already been nominated for a number of awards, including the Edgar award (US award for mystery writing).

Check out the website based on the series or read the interactive shortstory featuring Lockwood and his crew, here.

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Silver Inky Award.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

Portraits of Celina

 

TITLE = PORTRAITS OF CELINA

AUTHOR = SUE WHITING

GENRE = GOTHIC, MYSTERY, FAMILY, ROMANCE, GRIEF

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9 – 11

 

Celina disappeared at the age of 16 when she was walking to catch the bus for school. The house she grew up in has long since been abandoned …till now.

Bayley, Seth and Amelia are distant relatives of Celina’s. Their family has been fractured due to their father’s sudden and accidental death. Mum is simply not coping, so they have left Sydney in the hope of saving Amelia from self-destruction. They have moved into Celina’s old home … and she appears to be haunting Bayley’s life. Is the past going to repeat itself?

There are some real gothic elements in this story, even though it is set in rural Australia in the heat of summer – the ghostly haunting seems to pervade the atmosphere – the hot summer silence of the Australian bush seems heavy with dread. Yet the book is realistic too: from the squabbling siblings to the credible characters of Oliver, Bob and Anne. A great combination: gripping and spooky as well as fast-paced with plenty of twists and turns in the plot. The last few chapters are particularly ‘edge-of-the-seat’ as we watch the action and mystery build to a climax.

Highly Recommended (Deb Marshall) *****

A Sherlock Holmes rewrite set in Melbourne!

TITLE = EVERY BREATH 

AUTHOR = ELLIE MARNEY

GENRE = CRIME, MYSTERY, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, RELATIONSHIPS, LITERARY REMAKE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9 – 12

What a great read from a new YA author! If you enjoy crime fiction and especially if you enjoy Sherlock Holmes , then you are sure to enjoy this novel, set in modern day Melbourne.

Young James Mycroft (whose surname recalls Sherlock Holme’s highly intelligent older brother) is a self-confessed genius, with some seriously flawed social skills. Some might call him eccentric – like his good friend, Rachel Watts. Some might just call him an annoying pest – like some of his teachers and Detective Pickup, who would actually rather like to arrest Mycroft!

When Mycroft and Watts stumble upon a dead homeless man (who was a friend of Mycroft’s) their desire to see justice done is aroused. With his intelligence piqued and an interest in forensics, Mycroft thinks he can solve the crime before the appointed detectives. Especially with his faithful sidekick, Watts, along for the ride. However, whilst Watts may be good at patching up Mycroft’s battle scars, her sense of daring may actually endanger them both.

There are delicious nods to the original Sherlock Holmes canon – in the names and personalities of the main characters, even down to the blog that Mycroft writes (as “Diogenes”). But even those readers who are not Holmes fans will enjoy this novel. It blends fast-paced action with credible characters and situations. The key characters have to battle against interfering families, school work and detention,  as they try to stay one step ahead of the game.

Is Mycroft too much for Watts to handle? Can Mycroft save Watts from herself? And are they really just friends, as they keep telling everyone? A highly entertaining story about 2 teens trying to see justice done .. and stay alive to sit their next exams!   

This book has been Longlisted for the 2014 Gold Inky award.

Highly Recommended (dma) ***** 

An exciting foray into the gearpunk world

TITLE = THE RITHMATIST

AUTHOR = BRANDON SANDERSON

GENRE = GEARPUNK, ADVENTURE, MAGIC, FANTASY,SERIES

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

Journey into the “Gearpunk” world of “the Rithmatist” for fun, fantasy and adventure. Young Joel is the son of a chalk maker and an enthusiastic devotee of Rithmatists, those who use chalk drawings to wield magic. Using complex mathematical formulae and symbols, Rithmatists can create in chalk elaborate defences and mount attacks against enemies. They can also create chalklings to further extend their powers. But what if these abilities are used against the Rithmatists themselves?? Who can stave off such attacks??

Joel is keen to help: he has an amazing knowledge of the Rithmatist’s lore and would dearly love to be able to wield power as they do; but he missed his opportunity as a youngster. Can he join forces with the professor and the remedial Rithmatist student, Melody, to save the day?? Or will he simply make enemies of those with great power? This is an exciting foray into a new fantasy series – one with engines powered by unusual gears and cogs, one with an odd mix of mathematics and magic, one where courage is needed to face great odds.

An exciting mystery and fantasy set in a gearpunk world created by a famed fantasy writer: Brandon Sanderson. Check out his website and blog here.

Check out the book trailer below, too:

Highly Recommended (dma) *****