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 crime novel with a musical flavour

TITLE = KILL THE MUSIC

AUTHOR = NANSI KUNZE

GENRE = MYSTERY, THRILLER, FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8, 9

Lorna’s older brother, Flint, is not only her guardian he is also part of a super popular boy band. So Lorna has spent the last couple of years in the very unreal world of celebrities and rock stars. Taking a break from touring, the band has returned to Australia to work on their music so Lorna is excited about going to a normal school for a while and living a more normal life.

That is until she overhears someone threatening to kill her brother and his band. After seeking help from the police, Lorna is suddenly thrust into a world of detectives, crime and mysteries. Can she save the band and avoid being hurt herself? And is it possible amidst the rock band gigs and mystery-solving for Lorna to actually make some friends who aren’t just interested in her because she has a famous brother??

An entertaining and enjoyable mystery story set in a different (and almost credible) world of rock music celebrities.

Recommended (dma) ****    

A crime story within a crime story

TITLE = KILLING RACHEL (The Murder Notebooks #2)

AUTHOR = ANNE CASSIDY

GENRE = MYSTERY, CRIME, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, ROMANCE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9 -10

This is a clever crime story within a crime story. Rose and Josh are searching for their parents. For 3 years, Anne and her mum and Josh and his dad lived together like a family. Both parents also worked together in the police force but when they went missing one night (5 years ago) Rose was sent to live with her gran whilst Josh lived with his uncle. Reunited after 5 years, the pair are itching to find out about their parents’ disappearance. As no bodies have been found they live in hopes of finding them alive.

Whilst Josh is intent on following some new leads, Rose has a mystery of her own to solve. She has been receiving letters and phone calls from an ex-school friend, Rachel, begging for help but given how badly their friendship went, Rose was in no hurry to get involved. And now it is too late. Rachel has died under mysterious circumstances.

Can Rose solve the puzzle of Rachel’s death and has Josh really stumbled on new leads or is he reaching at straws?? And why hasn’t he been answering his calls?

This is a well plotted mystery story. Although it is the 2nd in a series of 4 books readers won’t need to have read book 1 to pick up the story line her – but they are sure to want to read the next 2 books in the series.

Recommended (dma) ***

An exciting Steampunk sequel

TITLE = CHANGING YESTERDAY

AUTHOR = SEAN McMULLEN

GENRE = TIME TRAVEL, SCIENCE FICTION, STEAMPUNK

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7-9

This is an engaging sequel to “Before the Storm” with plenty of action and lots of plot twists. This time around, the story focuses more on Daniel, who is heartbroken when Muriel abandons him for Fox and heads off to Paris. After Daniel mopes at home for weeks, his family decides to ship him off to England to finish his schooling and prepare him for university; so most of the action takes place on board an array of ships. And what amazing action there is!

For central to this story is a race: a race against time and a race against “bad guys” – what complicates matters is that our sense of who the bad guys are, keeps changing! For Daniel’s street smart and greedy friend, Barry the Rat, sets in train a series of events that threatens his future, Daniel’s future and maybe even the future of the world.

BC, the warrior woman from the future must join forces with Madeleine, a spunky and intelligent waitress from Ballarat (!), to set right the innumerable wrongs that Barry’s actions have caused. But will Daniel help them in their cause? Or is he implicated in wrongdoing?

Daniel may start the novel as a lovesick young man … but he will learn a lot during the course of his travels … about himself, about women and about love. He may turn out to be more of a hero than he thought he could be??

Plenty of action, plenty of plot twists and turns and plenty of humour ensure that this rollicking novel will keep readers amused and engaged from beginning to end. An absolute treat!

Whilst the novel could be enjoyed as a stand alone book, readers will probably get most out of the fun if they read book 1 first –  Read a review here.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A shocking crime leads to an unlikely friendship

TITLE = BURNING BLUE

AUTHOR = PAUL GRIFFIN

GENRE = FAMILIES, RESILIENCE, FRIENDSHIP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 11 – 12

This is a compelling novel: part family-drama, part mystery and crime thriller. When popular student and part-time model, Nicole Castor, has acid thrown at her face, it sets in motion an unexpected response from school refuser, Jay Nazarro. The two teens are first thrown together accidently when they meet in the waiting room of the school counsellor. Both are negotiating a return to school, both are uncertain about the reception they will receive but in other ways they seem opposites and certainly come from different worlds, financially speaking. Nicole has experienced the heartbreak of her parents’ divorce, Jay has experienced parental loss of his own and now lives with his father. Yet Nicole appears to get along well with both her parents, whilst Jay’s relationship with his dad is somewhat strained.

As the novel unfolds we learn more about the reasons for this distance and the associated incident that caused Jay to complete home schooling for so long. Home schooling has allowed Jay to learn hacking skills that may put him on the wrong side of the law but may also be invaluable in finding the person who has attacked Nicole so savagely. For after their first meeting, Jay is drawn to Nicole – partly out of a desire to seek justice on her behalf – but the more he gets to know her, the more he learns about her inner strength, her inner beauty – and this is what drives him on, at greater risk to himself.

The cleverness of this novel is that although there is a central crime at the core of the story, when the perpetrator is revealed, the true horror of the situation is also revealed and yet, as anyone who reads a daily newspaper will know the events are all too realistic. Paul Griffin creates a world where we care about the characters and what happens to them and where we will ponder the story long after the last page is read.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

A bit of magic, a bit of mystery and a bit of romance

TITLE = THE ZIGZAG EFFECT

AUTHOR = LILI WILKINSON

GENRE = MYSTERY, MAGIC, ROMANCE 

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 8-10

Sage is new to Melbourne and pleased to find a job with a magician, as she hopes the funds will help pay for the photography course she has dreamed of completing. However, she does not bargain for falling into the middle of a mystery when the magician goes missing – nor does she expect to fall in love (maybe) with the aptly named, Herb (a magician-in-training who dreams of going solo one day). Add into the mix the beautiful but enigmatic Bianca (magician’s assistant) and a rival magician and the scene is sent for a wonderfully entertaining romp, in true ili Wilkinson style.

Fans of “A pocketful of Eyes” will love the Melbourne setting, the hint of a girl detective in the making and the heart-tugging beginnings of romance that are to be found between the covers of Lili Wilkinson’s latest book. And they will not be disappointed.  New fans are sure to be made as well – and readers are sure to be enlightened and engaged by the world og magic that they enter in this highly entertaining novel.

Recommended (dma) ****

A thriller set in a small Italian village

TITLE = I’M NOT SCARED

AUTHOR = NICCOLO AMMANITI

GENRE = GROWING UP, MYSTERY, FAMILY

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

It is a long hot summer in the small village in Italy which young Michele calls home. There are only 4 dwellings in the village and the few children tend to roam around the surrounding hillsides for amusement. It is whilst out with his friends that Michele comes across a hole which appears to hold a body. Closer inspection by 9 yo Michele proves that the body is that of a young boy who is being kept captive.

Michele keeps his discovery a secret from his friends. But just as he is ready to turn to his parents for help, he discovers that they, and all the other adults in the village) are involved in the kidnapping of this boy.  With the introduction of other adults who are mean and bullies, Michele realises that his life is in danger, too, not just the hostage boys. Who can a 9 yo turn to for help .. or should he just forget about the youngster?? Is he wiling to risk his own life for the sake of a boy he barely knows??

A compelling drama with enough twists and turns in the plot to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Highly Recommended (dma)*****

More exciting seafaring action

TITLE = SHIP KINGS 2: The Voyage of the Unquiet Ice

AUTHOR = ANDREW McGAHAN

GENRE = ADVENTURE, ACTION, FANTASY, HORROR

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7 AND UP

This second instalment in the Ship Kings quartet, is every bit as exciting as the first. There is again a sense of dread and fear lurking in the wings as Dow struggles to stay alive and free. He may have gained his dream of living and working on a sailing ship but has this dream come at too great a cost? Will a voyage to the icy edges of the world provide answers or more danger and possible loss of life?

Apart from the ever present dangers of the sea, Dow is also facing more personal dangers, especially when he seeks to find out more about the intriguing  scapegoat girl, Nell. We learn more about the back stories of some of the key characters in this book and Dow is put to the test yet again. Full of adventure and seafaring action – and moving human stories too.

Another great read – and readers will be excited to know that there is more action and suspense expected in the next eagerly awaited volume in this dense, beautifully written seafaring adventure story.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

An enticing sequel

TITLE = QUEEN OF THE NIGHT

AUTHOR = LEANNE HALL

GENRE = FANTASY, ADVENTURE

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10, 11

A sequel to the engrossing “This is Shyness”, this novel is every bit as enthralling and intriguing. We pick up the story 6 months after the conclusion of “This is Shyness” only to find that Wolfboy and Wildgirl haven’t been in touch since then. Both are getting on with their lives in positive ways: Wildgirl (now better known as Nia) has moved schools and has a new part-time job, which she loves. Wolfboy has a caring and close relationship with his niece and her mother. Yet each still can’t help thinking of the other with an element of regret.

When a friend is in trouble, Wolfboy instinctively turns to Nia for help. But is it too late for them to start again? And is it too late to hep Paul? Is there even more danger looming in the depths of Shyness?

An engrossing sequel which leaves room for further adventures to come.

Read about the first book in this series here.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****   

 

An exciting new fantasy novel

TITLE = THE MONSTER

SERIES = TROUBLE TWISTERS:

AUTHOR = GARTH NIX & SEAN WILLIAMS

GENRE= FANTASY, SUPERNATURAL, MAGIC

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 7, 8

This is an enchanting new book in the TroubleTwister series, perhaps even more enjoyable than the first one. Jaide and Jack are still living in Portland and learning their troubletwister craft. As you might expect from youngsters who are enthusiastic and curious about exploring their abilities at times they overstep the mark and take risks. Whilst they mostly work with good intentions, their inability to obey Granny’s instructions often leads them further down the path of trouble: but that is half of their name, after all!

There is a playfulness about some of the characters that quite neatly balances the darker elements in the story, especially the attacks from the monsters and other creatures. The train conductor’s weird and witty wordplay is one fine example whilst the twins rather unusual school teacher, Mr Carver (call me Heath) is another. Kleo and Ari the dignified and aloof cats again play a significant role in the action whilst Granny X continues to puzzle both the twins and the reader, with her legion of secrets. A great new fantasy book which is sure to delight younger readers.

Why not check out the website based around the book too.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****