The school holidays is usually a time for me to try and tackle my overflowing review pile without the distraction of work, school and numerous after school activities. Normally there are only a few titles published in August and September but this year has seen lots of books pushed back into the Autumn schedule resulting in a huge number of books due for release in the next month or so. This makes it even more difficult to decide what books I can read and so in order to try and give as many as possible some space, I have included a brief round up of all the books I’ve read during the holidays that haven’t already featured on the blog. Hopefully there should be something for everyone in this selection. Enjoy!
From the moment Robin Stevens announced that in the final, ‘Murder Most Unladylike,’ adventure, ‘Death Sets Sail,’ only one of the the Detective Society members would make it home alive, I was desperate to read it. So when mine and my daughter’s copies arrived through the letterbox it was a competition to see who could finish it first. Obviously I had lots of dull adulting things to do at the same time, so I was pestered by my daughter on a hourly basis to finish it so she could discuss it with me. With a nod to Agatha Christie’s iconic, ‘Death on the Nile,’ we are transported to Egypt, one of the places that I find completely fascinating and after reading this I felt liked I’d been there myself. You can clearly see how Robin used her experiences to enrich the story for the reader. Aboard the SS SS Hatshepsut is a mysterious society called the Breath of Life: a strange organisation, who believe themselves to be reincarnations of the ancient pharaohs. When one of their members is found brutally murdered, it’s up to Daisy and Hazel to unravel this complex and dangerous case. I love how Daisy’s younger sister May Wong plays a vital role in this mystery, setting up perfectly for the next venture from Robin a new series featuring May in, ‘The Ministry of Unladylike Activity,’ coming in 2020. It’s difficult to say much about this book for risk of spoiling it for the reader, I can say is this is the absolute perfect finale. It celebrates all of the very best aspects of this brilliant series mixing superbly a mystery full of twists and turns and a turning point in Daisy and Hazel lives. It has been a real privilege to have been on a journey with them both and I’ve adored this series from start to finish. Bravo Robin Stevens, you have excelled yourself with, ‘Death Sets Sail.’
M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman are back in another ‘Adventure on Trains,’ mystery in the fast paced and furious, ‘Kidnap on the California Comet.’ Following on from the success of solving the case of the missing jewels, Hal is thrilled to be invited to join his uncle, Nat, aboard the California Comet on a trip from Chicago to San Francisco. When one of the passengers, a billionaire’s daughter is kidnapped right before his eyes, Hal finds himself unintentionally caught up in another mystery. But something isn’t quite right, can he uncover the truth before the journey ends? This book was everything I hoped it would be, the ‘Adventure of Trains,’ series is fast becoming one of my favourite new mystery series. I love how the journey itself adds to the drama with time ticking away as you watch the scenery disappear into the distance knowing that the nearer you get to your destination, the less time you have to solve the mystery. The excitement of travelling aboard these exceptional trains is wonderfully compelling, Elisa Paganelli beautiful illustrations brings to life these magnificent machines superbly. I wish more middle grade adventures were illustrated, it definitely enhances the readers’ experience. Another thrilling and fabulous mystery that kept me guessing right to the dramatic end.
I find time-slip adventures really appealing, so when I heard that ‘The Wild Way Home,’ would take us back to the Stone Age I was really intrigued. As a school librarian the pool of fiction titles that can be used to support this topic is quite limited, so I was excited at the prospect of a new addition to this collection. Charlie has been excited about the prospect of having a sibling after a very long wait but is devastated when his baby brother is born with a serious heart condition. Confused and upset by all of the conflicting feelings, Charlie flees to a place of comfort, the ancient forest. But when Charlie finds a boy injured in the river, everything changes in an instant. Realising there has been a dramatic shift in the world, Charlie must find a way to help this boy in order to get home. Sophie’s beautiful descriptive writing is wonderfully engaging allowing the reader to have a strong sense of this new and mysterious world where everything is different whilst looking almost the same. This sense of confusion and discomfort mirrors the feelings Charlie is experiencing. I particularly enjoyed the friendship between Charlie and Harby as they come to terms with this strange event that they are both caught up in. A really interesting read that would make for a perfect spark for inspiring children to write about this fascinating historical time.
Strange and mysterious things are happening to the children in Mima Malone’s school and the grown ups have absolutely no idea what is going on. Webbed feet, hair loss and mouths turning completely blue seem very out of the ordinary and Mima together with the help of her friends is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. But with so many adults behaving suspiciously and the school bully moving in next door, it’s proving to be extremely tricky. Kate has assembled a brilliant cast of characters who bring this story to life, I’m particularly drawn to dastardly villains and these are perfectly bad. I think the mystery element is very satisfying with clues that are nicely scattered throughout the story allowing the reader to piece them all together and help find the mad and bad culprit. Fabulously fun, it’s perfect for mystery lovers looking for a hilarious and madcap adventure that will make them laugh out loud. I really hope we get to see more from Mima Malone!
Lauren James is an essential part of my most loved shelves. Her ability to create stories that are truly incredible never ceases to amaze me and ‘The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker,’ is another stellar addition to her repertoire. Harriet Stoker inadvertently crashes into the afterlife when she decides to explore a derelict and apparently haunted building, the site of an unexplained death of a group of students at her university. She quickly realises that death is just the beginning as she meets the ghostly inhabitants of the former halls of residence who all have magical powers. Welcomed into their world, the ghost are keen to make friends with Harriet but she wants more than friendship, she wants power. She needs to get back to her frail grandmother and is willing to sacrifice anything to get her own way. But there is a mysterious force at work, a force beyond Harriet’s control. Even when you’re dead, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to live. Lauren yet again manages to surprise and astound the reader with the most unexpected of twists which disturb the very foundations of everything you held up to be the truth. A truly compelling and extraordinary story that dazzled me with its brilliance.
When two girls lives are thrown together when Usha’s family adopts Imtiaz, they are both convinced they will never be friends let alone sisters. Fiery Imtiaz clashes with the quiet and solemn Usha, who is desperately grieving the loss of her beloved grandma. But the girls are forced to put their dislike of each other aside when their family home is threatened. A surprise visitor sends a message that they must right a wrong from the past and reveal the hidden secrets long buried to save their home. This is an intriguing and fascinating read which shines a spotlight on a past that has ramifications still today. It looks at the way the Ayahs – who were brought from India to be nannies – were treated shamefully. I like how this was explored by the girls delving through history and putting together the pieces of this mystery and gradually revealing the truth that had been hidden away in their home. A beautiful and timely tale of family, friendship and loss that completely surprised and delighted me .
Thanks to Bloomsbury, Macmillan, Orion and Walker for the NetGalley proofs of these titles. You can buy these books online now (click on the title) or from any good bookshop. If possible please support your local independent bookshop you can find the nearest one here.