Rave Reviews Log: Mysteries & Suspense

April 27, 2009

The Secret of the Crocodiles

By Karen Wallace
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

This is the first book in the Lady Violet Winters mystery series. Violet is thrilled to be traveling with her parents and tutor to Egypt for Christmas. She is extra excited to be with Garth, her father's American ward just her age, for they have become fast friends. Set around the turn of the 20th century, Violet chafes against some of the social rules of the British and is agape at the vivid Egyptian landscape that they begin to explore. But quickly, she and Garth are drawn into intrigue when they figure out that the Count who travelled over to Egypt with them may be part of a group of tomb robbers. When their new friend Nicholas disappears, Violet and Garth begin to put some of the pieces together to figure out the mystery and keep it quiet--Violet is sure her parents wouldn't believe anything the kids have to say. Can two 13 year olds rescue Nicholas and stop the Count from leaving the country with priceless antiquities? An enjoyable read, particularly good in description of the setting. Fans may wish to read the second book in the series, The Man With Tiger Eyes.

April 21, 2009

The Graveyard Book

By Neil Gaiman
Newbery Award Winner 2009
Rating: 4 1/2 stars

In this unique story, Nobody Owens, or "Bod," was barely a toddler when his entire family was murdered. Luckily the baby toddled up to the graveyard up the hill while the door was open and in a fit of generosity, the ghostly denizens of the place decide to keep and raise the baby and give him the "Freedom of the Graveyard." Bod quickly becomes accustomed to life in the graveyard, since he can remember no other life. Much like Mowgli in The Jungle Book where the jungle animals instruct the boy in their ways, the ghosts teach Bod what worldly things they know, as well as how to do ghostly things, like Fade, Dreamwalk, and see in the dark. But when Bod becomes old enough to begin to wonder about the world outside, he discovers that he is still in danger from "Jack", the man who killed his family, and that a graveyard's protection only reaches so far. But a boy can't stay in a graveyard forever. Can Bod face his enemy and learn to live in the real world? This book is in turns fascinating and exciting and readers will be drawn in and love it. Destined to become a favorite of the Newbery Award winners. Readers may wish to try out Gaiman's other famous creepy novel, Coraline, or want to pick up his inspiration for this book, Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book.

April 13, 2009


By Vivian Vande Velde
Rating: 4 stars

In this suspenseful mystery, Isabelle's first memory is when she finds herself running in the woods away from a pack of dogs. The twelve year old girl cannot remember anything else about her former life. When the pack is called off after biting her leg, she is brought to an old couple's home where they care for her along with their 6 year old granddaughter, Ravyn. Events are made more mysterious when Isabelle is told that the old witch who lived in the woods was just chased off and her cottage burned down after an infant child had gone missing around the same time she was found in the woods. No one recognizes Isabelle and Ravyn is filled with ideas of who Isabelle can be. Was she the witch's prisoner? Is she a princess? An animal changed into a person? None seem likely and then a family arrives at the door, sure that Isabelle is their daughter who had gone missing 6 years ago. Is she? Isabelle has no memory of this family, so tearfully happy to have her back and even more grateful since they were the ones who had the month old baby stolen. Isabelle isn't sure if she is happy or not, but certainly Honey, her would-be older sister, is NOT convinced that Isabelle is actually her missing sister. As Isabelle tries to sort through these questions and bits of evidence, she becomes more and more convinced that some of the pieces of the story are not making sense. Who is she really? Readers will find this story hard to put down and if they pay careful attention, all the pieces WILL fit together by the time the last page is turned. A good, suspenseful read.