Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Review of The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday, by Alexander McCall Smith

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

comforts_of_a_muddy_saturday_largeThe Comforts of a Muddy Saturday

by Alexander McCall Smith

narrated by Davina Porter

Recorded Books, 2008. 7.75 hours on 7 compact discs.

I love Alexander McCall Smith’s books. But I do find it easier to get through his rambling Isabel Dalhousie books by listening to them on my commute. This way, I get to listen to Davina Porter’s delightful Scottish accent, and I don’t mind if not a lot happens during any one listening session. (I get impatient when that happens when I’m reading.)

Isabel Dalhousie is a philosopher who meddles in other people’s lives. In this book, she’s asked to help with a genuine case, to clear a doctor’s name. Isabel and the listener do find out the solution to the case, but it’s not really because of deduction that it’s solved.

Still, it’s fun to go along with Isabel as she ponders motives in big areas as well as in the little things of life. Her son is getting bigger and she always finds ethical issues to think about.

This series makes for nice agreeable listening.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Mystery of the Screaming Clock, by Robert Arthur

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

screaming_clock_largeAlfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators in

The Mystery of the Screaming Clock

by Robert Arthur

Random House, New York, 1968. 184 pages.

This is Book 9 in The Three Investigators series. This may be about where my brother stopped letting me read his copy when I was a kid. This Interlibrary Loan process is great!

The Mystery of the Screaming Clock is another puzzle-based mystery. It starts with an alarm clock that, instead of a normal ringing alarm, gives off a piercing scream of a woman in mortal terror.

The clock turned up at the junkyard, and now Jupiter Jones wants to solve the mystery of who would create an alarm clock that screams. They discover a whole room full of screaming clocks made by a man who once did sound effects for an old radio mystery show.

Not surprisingly to the reader, this turns to a mystery involving art theft and an innocent person who needs his name cleared and another boy who gets to take part in the investigation.

The clock has a message glued to the bottom:

Dear Rex:
Ask Imogene.
Ask Gerald.
Ask Martha.
Then act! The result will surprise even you.

Clearly, The Three Investigators need to find Rex, Imogene, Gerald, and Martha. This leads them, eventually, to cryptic clues and a puzzle to solve. But they are not the only ones trying to solve this particular mystery. The story does include the usual mortal peril for some of our heroes. It doesn’t include the rival gang of bullies, and I thought it the better for that omission.

I enjoy the puzzle mysteries in this series, though this one had one part of the clues in a form readers couldn’t possibly figure out themselves. But the story of kids chasing down clues and cleverly solving a mystery with fast-moving action does hold up after almost 50 years.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/screaming_clock.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an interlibrary loan via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Mystery of the Fiery Eye, by Robert Arthur

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

fiery_eye_largeThe Mystery of the Fiery Eye

by Robert Arthur

Random House, New York, 1984. 164 pages.

This is Number Seven in the series of The Three Investigators. I was terribly disappointed when my interlibrary loan came in and apparently I hadn’t specified that I only wanted the original 1967 edition. However, I’m pretty sure the only change is that Alfred Hitchcock was changed to “Hector Sebastian,” a fictional “detective turned mystery writer” rather than a famous actual movie director.

This is another mystery, full of action and danger. As in many others, two of the Three Investigators get captured at some point in the story. A lot of luck is involved in the successful solution of the case, but there is also some deduction. And, as has become customary (I didn’t even notice this from when I read them as a kid), there is a boy from another country who is in on the investigation. In this case the other country is Great Britain, so at least there are few stereotypical elements in the boy’s personality and way of speaking.

This mystery includes some written clues – thus making it more of a puzzle than some, and also making it a type I particularly enjoy. Though the clues are not quite as clever as those in The Stuttering Parrot, and I thought the whole process of following red herrings had a few too many coincidences. But it’s still a fun puzzle to watch Jupiter Jones work on.

The Mystery of the Fiery Eye is notable in that it finally has a girl make an appearance! Not a very flattering example, but at least this book acknowledges that girls exist! The girl, Liz Logan, is talkative and eager.

“Look, don’t you ever need a girl operative?” Liz was asking eagerly. “I’m sure you must on some of your investigations. There are times when a girl would be a big help. You could call on me. I’m a terrific actress. I can use make-up to disguise myself, and I can change my voice and –“…

Bob took the card and climbed into the truck beside Hans, not even noticing the blue sedan that passed them. He was thinking that Liz seemed like a pretty nice sort, and maybe a girl could help them sometime. It was true Jupiter had little use for girls, but if the right occasion ever arose, he’d suggest they call Liz Logan.

I honestly don’t remember if Liz shows up later or not, but I think I vaguely remember some such thing.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/fiery_eye.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an interlibrary loan via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Secret of Skeleton Island, by Robert Arthur

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

skeleton_island_largeAlfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in

The Secret of Skeleton Island

by Robert Arthur
illustrated by Harry Kane

Random House, New York, 1966. 158 pages.

This is Book Six of The Three Investigators series, and the fourth one I’ve read in my current rereading spree. Reading them out of order so far has not mattered a bit.

This one I actually remembered some crucial plot details because they are so cool, actually involving pirate treasure. I will say no more about that.

This book doesn’t have anything at all about the gold-plated Rolls-Royce and Worthington, the chauffeur, but it has plenty of adventure. Right at the start, Alfred Hitchcock sends them off to Skeleton Island, off the southeast coast of the United States, where a company is making a movie at the old amusement park on the island.

But the movie company is having trouble. Pieces of equipment have been stolen, and their boats have been tinkered with at night. What’s more, a legendary ghost has recently been seen riding the old merry-go-round. The girl died long ago when she vowed to finish her ride in a storm, but was then struck by lightning.

One thing I’d forgotten was how many of these books have a stereotypical ethnic character. In this case, it’s Chris Markos, from Greece, a diver who’s trying to find pirate treasure to help his injured father. The townspeople are stereotypical and superstitious as well, easily falling for the ghost story and gossiping intensely and mistrusting Chris, the foreigner.

But the overall story is fun and adventurous. Pirate treasure. Boats. Being marooned. Making a movie. Scuba diving. Lives in danger and a mystery to solve. This was a fun one to revisit.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/skeleton_island.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an interlibrary loan via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure, by Robert Arthur

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

vanishing_treasure_largeAlfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators in

The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure

by Robert Arthur
illustrated by Harry Kane

Random House, New York, 1966. 159 pages.

This is Book Five in The Three Investigators series. I’ve decided to post my reviews of the books in order, even though I’m reading them out of order. As I read, I remembered quite a few details from this one, probably because there are some quite bizarre things.

The book begins with Jupiter discussing how he would steal the Rainbow Jewels from a local museum. The three decide to go to the museum on Children’s Day to practice their investigator skills – and while they are there, a valuable Golden Belt is stolen. Their help on that mystery is refused, but then they are asked to help one of Alfred Hitchcock’s friends, who has been seeing gnomes. It’s a bizarre case – little people with fiery red eyes peering in the windows and digging noises at night. We aren’t surprised when the two cases dovetail.

As usual, I am once again amazed at what the boys’ parents let them go off and do on their own! And once again, they get into danger, but the strategic placement of a chalk question mark (and a very clever and memorable placement in this case) gets them out of it. Once again, we have a stereotypical ethnic character – this time a boy from Japan. At least the author is trying to be cross-cultural, though not perhaps in the politically correct way it would be approached today.

Still no girls at all have appeared in these books, but they are still a quick-reading adventure yarn, where kids figure out a case that has adults stumped. I’m having great fun going back in time with these mysteries.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/vanishing_treasure.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an interlibrary loan borrowed via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of Greenglass House, by Kate Milford

Friday, January 9th, 2015

greenglass_house_largeGreenglass House

by Kate Milford

Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2014. 373 pages.
Starred Review
2014 Cybils Finalist, Speculative Fiction for Elementary and Middle Grades
2014 Sonderbooks Stand-out, #3 Children’s Fiction

Here’s a snowed-in mystery for kids with some non-traditional elements. It’s the start of Christmas vacation, and Milo was counting on some quiet down time with his parents. Milo’s home, Greenglass House, is itself something of a character in the book.

Milo Pine did not run a smugglers’ hotel, but his parents did. It was an inn, actually; a huge, ramshackle manor house that looked as if it had been cobbled together from discarded pieces of a dozen mismatched mansions collected from a dozen different cities. It was called Greenglass House, and it sat on the side of a hill overlooking an inlet of harbors, a little district built half on the shore and half on the piers that jutted out into the river Skidwrack like the teeth of a comb. It was a long climb up to the inn from the waterfront by foot, or an only slightly shorter trip by the cable railway that led from the inn’s private dock up the steep slope of Whilforber Hill. And of course the inn wasn’t only for smugglers, but that was who turned up most often, so that was how Milo thought of it.

Milo had lived at Greenglass House ever since he’d been adopted by Nora and Ben Pine when he was a baby. It had always been home. And he was used to the bizarre folks who passed through the inn, some of them coming back every season like extended family who showed up to pinch your cheeks at holidays and then disappeared again. After twelve years, he was even getting pretty good at predicting who was going to show up when. Smugglers were like bugs or vegetables. They had their seasons. Which was why it was so weird when the huge old bell on the porch, the one that was connected to the winch that drove the cable that in turn hauled the car up its tracks, started ringing.

The whole family is very surprised to have a guest the first day of Milo’s Christmas vacation, especially on the afternoon just before a big snowstorm is forecasted. They are even more surprised when four more guests follow. None of the guests will give details about when they expect to leave. All of the guests are vague about why they are there. And the snow continues to fall.

Mrs. Pine is quick to ask for help, so she goes out to the town for groceries and to get Mrs. Caraway and her daughter Lizzie to help out. Milo is frustrated by all the bustle when he’d expected a quiet vacation, so he hunkers down in one of his favorite places for when the hotel is full of guests, behind a high-backed loveseat. He got absorbed in the stories in a book one of the guests lent to him.

But the spot wasn’t private enough, and that’s when he meets another important character in the book.

Another girl, about Milo’s own age whom he had never seen before, was peering curiously at him over the back of the loveseat. This had to be Lizzie’s younger sister, Meddy. Milo had heard plenty about Meddy but had never met her. “Hi,” he said quietly, trying to tamp down annoyance at being looked at so closely while he was in one of his special places. “You must be Meddy. I’m Milo.”

Meddy Caraway looked as though she was just about as happy with this arrangement as Milo was. “Hello.” She yanked off her knitted cap, and static electricity sent her short reddish-blond hair shooting out like a spiky halo around her red face.

Yay, vacation.

Meddy is a bit annoying. Milo was looking at a chart one of the guests dropped. It’s a mysterious chart and looks like some kind of navigational chart, but it’s not of anywhere he’s heard of. Meddy grabs it and asks about it and all the guests coming at once, and she suggests that they start a campaign. Milo asks her what she means.

“It’s an adventure within a game world. Our game world is your house, and our adventure – our campaign – is going to be figuring out the mystery behind that chart.”

“Okay . . . how?”

She beckoned Milo closer, and he clambered off the hearth to crawl down behind the tree beside her. “We’re going to explore the house and investigate the guests,” she explained, “and along the way we’re going to look for clues. But first, you need a character.”

She explains to Milo about role-playing games and choosing a character. His character, named Negret, is a blackjack, an escaladeur. “Escaladeurs are masters at getting over walls and through fortifications and sneaking around things like castles and fortresses. They’re reconnaissance experts, one of the types of characters you send to gather information.”

Meddy chooses a character she calls Sirin.

Meddy scratched her head. “Well, there is a kind of character I’ve always wanted to play. It’s called a scholiast. They’re these winged creatures who follow angels around like familiars, and they’re not supposed to act in ways that change the course of events. But they love adventures, and they never get to have any, so when you come across one – they’re usually non-player characters, meaning you run into them and get information or clues or tools or something – you can almost always convince it to help. But I don’t see why a player couldn’t be one. I love the idea of a scholiast who’s decided to have an adventure, even though she isn’t supposed to. Do you mind if I try playing one?”

He shrugged, curious. “Why would I mind?”

“Well, for starters, Sirin would have to be invisible to all the other non-player characters – meaning everyone but you.”

Milo grinned. “I have to pretend you’re invisible?”

“Milo,” Meddy said sternly, “Sirin’s an otherworldly creature who’s not supposed to interact, just observe – unless ordered to do something by her angel. She’d have to be invisible to everyone but Negret. And that would make Negret the captain of our campaign. Sirin wouldn’t be comfortable being in command. She’d just be excited to be able to join the adventure. But she might be very useful in terms of seeing things Negret can’t. And she’d have unearthly powers that might come in handy.”

So they begin the game. And, right away, the chart disappears. This is where the book isn’t so much a traditional mystery. There’s no dead body. But some things are stolen, and Negret and Sirin work to recover the items and figure out who took them.

But the main mystery of the book is finding out why each of the five guests from that first night came to Greenglass House. With all of them, it ties in to the history of the house itself, which was once owned by a famous smuggler, Doc Holystone.

The mystery does involve finding out who the thief is, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Milo gets the guests to tell stories in the evenings (like the characters in the book he’s reading) and the tales intertwine in lovely ways. Meanwhile, ice and snow keep everyone at Greenglass House, each with their own reason for being there in the first place.

Perhaps the biggest weakness in the book is the coincidence that all these characters arrived at the same time. Because most of the reasons for being there are quite different from each other. But since that’s the foundation, the beginning situation, it’s easy for the reader to go with the story… what if all these characters decided to descend on Greenglass House at the same time?

This book is good for readers who enjoy a puzzle, but this puzzle has plenty of heart to go along with it, and interesting characters, and smugglers, and adventure, and hidden treasure.

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Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an Advance Reader Copy sent to me by the publisher for consideration for the Cybils Awards.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of “Shouldn’t You Be in School?” by Lemony Snicket

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

shouldnt_you_be_in_school_large“Shouldn’t You Be in School?”

All the Wrong Questions, Book 3

by Lemony Snicket

art by Seth

Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2014. 325 pages.
Starred Review

I wish I could have listened to this book, like I did the first two “Wrong Questions.” The narrator reads them with the perfect crime noir voice. However, reading the book has the advantage that I could enjoy the illustrations and that now I can quote bits.

This book is wonderfully clever. The plotting is complex, and you definitely should read the first two books first. In fact, I may have missed some crucial information by not yet reading File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents. Though this book says it is number 3, so I probably was just forgetting some details, because it had been awhile since I listened to the first two books.

“Shouldn’t You Be in School?” is a question that 13-year-old Lemony Snicket gets asked several times in this book, as he continues to investigate suspicious incidents in the town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea. Right from the beginning, there are instances of arson and evidence of a further plot by Hangfire. And several people in the town seem to be aiding Hangfire. Whom can young Snicket trust?

The author’s tone is delightful. I love the way he defines words and then they come up over and over again. In this book, the term “fragmentary plot” comes up over and over again, as he assembles a team of schoolchildren to help him, and each one has a part in the plan.

All the books begin similarly, and this is where I imagine Liam Aiken’s voice reading to me:

There was a town, and there was a librarian, and there was a fire. While I was in town I was hired to investigate this fire, and I thought the librarian could help me bring a villain to justice. I was almost thirteen and I was wrong. I was wrong about all of it. I should have asked the question “Why would someone destroy one building when they really wanted to destroy another?” Instead, I asked the wrong questions — four wrong questions, more or less. This is the account of the third.

We learn more bits about Lemony Snicket’s background in this book, and he works on thwarting one part of Hangfire’s plot. He gains some excellent allies in this episode. But overall enlightenment about what’s going on? I’ll be waiting eagerly for the fourth book.

This day was no different. It was like all the other days during my time in Stain’d-by-the-Sea, where every person had a secret, and beneath all the secrets was a great, slippery mystery, like a creature lurking in the depths of the sea.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/shouldnt_you_be_in_school.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy, by Robert Arthur

Friday, October 24th, 2014

whispering_mummy_largeAlfred Hitchcock and The Three Investigators in

The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy

by Robert Arthur
illustrated by Harry Kane

Random House, New York, 1965. 185 pages.

In my rereading of childhood favorites, The Three Investigators series, I’m now on Book 3. The Whispering Mummy isn’t the greatest of the series. The plot seems quite far-fetched, going well into Scooby-Doo territory, with lots of seemingly supernatural occurrences that the reader is pretty sure are going to end up being someone’s evil plot.

Once again, there’s another ethnic group that’s treated essentially as a stereotype, this time a Libyan boy and his uncle. Once again, rival Skinny Norris has a small part to play, but actually I like his part in this book.

Jupiter uses the Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup, asking five friends to ask five friends about something, and thus blanketing the city. Even as a kid, I never believed in the Ghost-to-Ghost Hookup, because it doesn’t take into account that after awhile kids would run out of friends who hadn’t already been called. Kids don’t actually have a large number of social groups, and once most of the kids in their grade at their school are contacted, it doesn’t matter what you ask them to do, they wouldn’t be able to deliver.

But in this case, Skinny finds out about the question being asked and foils their plans. I didn’t mind that, since even though it’s maybe unrealistic the question would have actually gotten to Skinny, at least it shows that Jupiter’s “brilliant” plan doesn’t always work smoothly.

And overall? The book is still lots of fun. Three boys solving a mystery that baffles adults, including dangerous situations and mysterious phenomena and cool equipment (walkie-talkies!). Gleeps! If the plot wasn’t terribly believable, at least it was lots of fun.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/whispering_mummy.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book gotten by interlibrary loan via Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Whispering Skull, by Jonathan Stroud

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

whispering_skull_largeThe Whispering Skull

Lockwood & Co., Book 2

by Jonathan Stroud

Disney Hyperion, Los Angeles, 2014. 435 pages.
Starred Review

I was so looking forward to this sequel to The Screaming Staircase, I preordered the book as soon as I heard its publication date. And I was not disappointed.

Jonathan Stroud is a genius for plotting. This book again intertwines many plot threads. We’re back with the 3-person (3-child) agency Lockwood & Co., in an alternate reality England where ghosts plague the populace. Lucy continues to narrate, and in this book she continues to hear from the skull-in-a-jar that George stole when he was working for the Fittes agency.

It is highly unusual for someone to be able to talk with a ghost. This is a Type Three ghost, and only one other Sensitive was ever able to do it. So this could bring Lucy and their agency fame and fortune. But is it worth it? The skull gives them information that almost gets them killed, and it sows doubts in Lucy’s mind about Lockwood and that door he asked them never to open.

Then there are, of course, the cases. The ones in this book are even more gruesome and frightening than the ones in the earlier book. Kids with an especially vivid imagination might want to stay away. Kids who like scary books, however, will be delighted. Mention that a ghost starts falling apart and forming ghost-rats that attack them. If they think they like the sound of reading about that, this is the book for them!

There’s also a rivalry with another agency – and a bet as to which one can solve the case first. There’s the usual fun banter between Lockwood and Lucy and George. (And George shines in this volume, I must say.)

But the meat of the book is the mystery. Who stole the Bone Glass, and what does it do? And can they get it back, yet stay alive?

This is yet another example of Jonathan Stroud’s superb writing. Even though I had my own copy, I checked out the library’s copy so I could read it on my lunch breaks. This is absorbing, clever, innovative, and completely delightful reading.

To give you the flavor, here’s a bit from a scene right at the start, where Lockwood & Co. get in a little over their heads:

“It’s getting close to the barrier,” I said.

“So’s mine.”

“It’s really horrible.”

“Well, mine’s lost both hands. Beat that.”

Lockwood sounded relaxed, but that was nothing new. Lockwood always sounds relaxed. Or almost always: that time we opened Mrs. Barrett’s tomb – he was definitely flustered then, though that was mainly due to the claw marks on his nice new coat. I stole a quick sidelong glance at him now. He was standing with his sword held ready: tall, slim, as nonchalant as ever, watching the slow approach of the second Visitor. The lantern light played on his thin, pale face, catching the elegant outline of his nose, and his flop of ruffled hair. He wore that slight half-smile he reserved for dangerous situations: the kind of smile that suggests complete command. His coat flapped slightly in the night breeze. As usual, just looking at him gave me confidence. I gripped my sword tightly and turned back to watch my ghost.

And found it right there beside the chains. Soundless, swift as thinking, it had darted in as soon as I’d looked away.

I swung the rapier up.

The mouth gaped, the sockets flared with greenish fire. With terrible speed, it flung itself forward. I screamed, jumped back. The ghost collided with the barrier a few inches from my face. A bang, a splash of ectoplasm. Burning flecks rained down on the muddy grass outside the circle. Now the pale figure was ten feet farther off, quivering and steaming.

There you have it: Plenty of adventure, danger from entities living and dead, swordplay, ghosts, mysteries and murders. This will appeal to many for its clever plotting, but is not for the faint of heart.

LockwoodandCo.com
jonathanstroud.com
DisneyBooks.com

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/whispering_skull.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on my own copy, preordered from Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Careful Use of Compliments, by Alexander McCall Smith

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

careful_use_of_compliments_largeThe Careful Use of Compliments

by Alexander McCall Smith
performed by Davina Porter

Recorded Books, 2007. 8 hours on 7 compact discs.

This is the fourth novel about Isabel Dalhousie by Alexander McCall Smith. I’m finding them much more enjoyable via audiobook. Isabel is a philosopher. She muses and thinks about everything that she comes across. In other words, the plots of these books are extremely slow moving. This is fine when you are in the car anyway, and delightful Scottish accents add to the fun.

You’ll be disappointed if you expect a traditional mystery from these books, but Isabel does slowly encounter a puzzle about a painting she’s thinking of buying. Also in the book she explores questions about motherhood, as she has a newborn son, and about her relationship with Jamie, so much younger than she is, and her relationship with her niece Kat. She’s being cut out of her job with the Review of Applied Ethics, and has to deal with the plotters responsible.

If you want an action-packed thriller, don’t pick up these books. But if you want to explore some musings about life and love with a deep thinker, and encounter some interesting situations at the same time, these books are a delight.

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Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Fiction/careful_use_of_compliments.html

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Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

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Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!