Rave Reviews Log: Mysteries & Suspense

March 10, 2012


By Sheela Chari
Rating: 4 stars

In this solid mystery, Neela is an Indian-American girl who has recently been sent a beautiful old veena (a traditional Indian instrument) by her grandmother.  She brings it into school for show and tell and as Neela is wheeling it home that afternoon, it begins to rain.  She shelters in a nearby church where a nice man named Hal makes her cocoa and keeps her occupied.  But when Neela goes to look for her veena in the closet, it is gone!  During the subsequent search, Neela finds out that her veena carries a curse and a mysterious past.  As Neela tries to sort out the various suspects, she begins to gain some new friends and some new confidence in herself.  The mystery will take Neela out of her comfort zone and all the way to India before it is solved.  A really interesting puzzle with lots of good characters.  Readers will connect with Neela and hope she is reunited with her veena.

November 14, 2011

Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls

By Wendelin Van Draanen
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

Sammy Keyes is back in her 14th mystery.  It is Halloween and Sammy and her friends are all dressed as zombies, ready to hit houses for some candy.  It is when they decide to cut through the graveyard that things get wonky.  They find someone running with a sack through the graveyard, being chased by a couple of other guys.  When the chasee drops the sack, Sammy's friends scoop it up, thinking it is candy.  Later on, they discover it has 2 skulls in it--which are later proved to be HUMAN skulls.  When Sammy hears of a couple of missing persons in the last month, she puts two and two together and makes four.  What have the gang gotten themselves into?  Her mystery will take her from the graveyard to a funeral parlor to a crypt.  And nevermind the mystery--we get an update on the drama between Sammy and Casey, as well as Heather, Billy, Marissa and Holly.  In short, everything you love about Sammy Keyes is in full force.  If this is your first Sammy Keyes book, head back to the beginning with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief.  You won't regret it!

November 02, 2011

The Aviary

By Kathleen O'Dell
Rating: 4 stars

In this interesting story, Clara has spent her entire life living inside the Glendoveer house, helping to take care of the elderly woman along with her mother and other caretaker Ruby.  Clara has rarely been outside herself and has never been to school due to her heart condition.  Her mother and Ruby run a tight ship, trying to keep the old mansion together, and Clara is content although she misses having friends. Then, Mrs. Glendoveer falls ill, and is very anxious about the aviary outside and the ancient disagreeable birds who live there.  Clara is afraid of the birds, but when she goes outside, one of them speaks Latin to her.  Can the birds talk?  When Mrs. Glendoveer dies and leaves the house to her mother and Ruby, Clara starts to discover that birds hide a great secret.  More than that, there are mysterious stories surrounding the Glendoveers that Clara has never heard.  But when she finally makes a friend with a new girl who moves in nearby, Clara is ready to tackle these mysteries.  But they will lead her to places she never would have believed existed.  Readers who like mystery, history and a touch of magic will be very interested in this story.

July 18, 2011

The Danger Box

By Blue Balliett
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

Zoomy can't see very well, and he has a few other issues which make having friends hard.  But he sees things in a totally different way, and his grandparents take good care of him in their tiny little town.  Then along comes Buckeye, their son and the father that Zoomy has never met.  Buckeye arrives back in town after years with a stolen pickup truck and a locked box that was in the truck.  When Zoomy and his grandpa open the box, they find an old old notebook that doesn't seem to make much sense and couldn't possibly be worth anything...could it?  As Zoomy researches bits and pieces he discovers from the notebook at the library, he makes a new friend in Lorrol, but also they discover an enemy--someone who is very interested in that missing box.  The race is on for Zoomy and Lorrol to find out the mystery of the notebook and to keep it hidden before this mysterious stranger finds out they have it.  A very interesting and fast-paced read that takes us in some unexpected directions.

May 07, 2011

The Midnight Tunnel

By Angie Frazier
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

In the start of this new series, Suzanna Snow Mysteries, "Zanna" helps her parents run a resort hotel in New Brunswick, Canada by the bay in 1904.  While her parents love managing the hotel and its wealthy summer residents, Zanna has a different interest: detective work!  Zanna idolizes her Uncle Bruce, who is a famous detective in Boston, and she feeds off of the news clippings he sends along.  She keeps her own notebook of observations about the guests, but it looks like another boring summer until the night of the first summer storm when the power is knocked out and young Maddie Cook goes missing.  When search teams come up empty, suspicion grows that Maddie was kidnapped and Zanna realizes she may just have seen a bit of Maddie as she got yanked away up the servants tunnel during the storm.  But no one pays her any mind, not even her Uncle Bruce who gets called in to help solve the case.  Zanna's excitement about his arrival is cruelly dashed when he barely remembers her name, nevermind listens to her theories.  Luckily, Uncle Bruce's apprentice Will is happy to join forces.  This is an exciting mystery, filled with twists and turns and possible outcomes that will keep the reader guessing.  Zanna is flawed but brave and readers will like her pluck and stubborness and root for her to solve the mystery.  Fans will look forward to the next mystery in this promising new series.

December 09, 2010

Sammy Keyes and the Wedding Crasher

By Wendelin Van Draanen
Rating: 4 stars

Oh, Sammy Keyes, we missed you!  Sammy is back and finally starting 8th grade and immediately there is a problem because she is in Mr. Vince's class--who also coached the softball team she had a run in with in 7th grade.  But no one will let her switch classes, so Sammy is stuck.  When someone writes "DIE, DUDE!" on Mr. Vince's screen, suspicion seems to naturally fall on Sammy.  But the matter passes by until Mr. Vince opens a desk drawer to find a dead rat wearing a "DIE, DUDE!" tag on it.  Suddenly, things are serious when the police get called in to deal with the death threats and Sammy is concerned her friend Billy is involved.  But then there is always the evil Heather...and that new girl Sasha...and what about Lars?  Or the custodian, Cisco?  None of the pieces seem to fit.  Add Sammy's long lost mother visiting town, her boyfriend Casey suddenly seeming not so interested, and Officer Borsch's wedding, and you've got a crazy mix of mystery and mayhem as Sammy tries to solve the case.  The solution is somewhat less tidy than normal since we never clear all of the other suspects, but it is great to have a new Sammy Keyes mystery to chew on.  Hooray!

November 03, 2010

The Last Apprentice: Rise of the Huntress

By Joseph Delaney
Rating: 4 stars

This is book 7 in the Last Apprentice series, which I am beginning to think will never end!  But hooray for this entry, because Bony Lizzie is back!  The war in the County has found the Spook's house and burned it down, so the Spook, Tom and Alice all head for a nearby island and relative safety.  Until Tom and Alice are captured and discover the evils of a creature called a buggane that sucks away your soul.  But even worse, the island soon comes under the power of Alice's evil bone witch mother, Bony Lizzie, set free when the Spook's house burned.  Lizzie is able to tap into the buggane's store of power to become even more dangerous than normal and the island is living in fear as she mercilessly kills off those who oppose her.  Can Tom, Alice and the Spook finally bring Lizzie to an end and escape?  Fans will cheer for this next creepy addition in the series, and look forward to whenever the big face-off with the Fiend will eventually come about.