Book Review: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

the-london-eye-mysteryWhat’s it about?

When Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye, he turned and waved before getting on. After half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off – but no Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air?

Since the police are having no luck finding him, Ted and Kat become sleuthing partners. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.

My thoughts

My eleven-year-old niece and I bought this book in a local second hand bookshop on Book Shop Day last year.  She read it and then passed it on to me as she’d enjoyed it and I spent a few enjoyable hours over a weekend with it.

If you’ve enjoyed books of the Nancy Drew and Wells and Wong series then you’re likely to enjoy this book too.  A good old caper with a couple of kids investigating a disappearance better than the police can…that kind of thing.  Only this search is aided by Ted’s condition…whether that’s Autism or Asperger’s it’s not actually spelt out, just that he has a differently wired brain!

The books is quite humourous, but of course, it’s probably not meant to be funny as this is just the way Ted is and how he reacts and breaks down social situations that feel alien to him but it’s done in a way that I expect the target audience (I would estimate pre-teen) will understand and empathise with.

I think this is one of the those books where it tells rather than shows; I didn’t feel there were any real clues to pick up on and the book ending will probably annoy regular readers of mystery novels because you at least want a chance to solve the mystery even if you can’t.

At the end of the day the real star of this book isn’t the mystery but Ted!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Link: Website

Small print for info
Source:  Purchased (2nd hand book shop)
No of pages: 336
Publisher: Puffin


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Book Review: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

murder-most-unladylikeWhat’s it about?

When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up their very own secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find any truly exciting mysteries to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t.)

Then Hazel discovers the Science Mistress, Miss Bell, lying dead in the Gym. She assumes it was a terrible accident – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now Hazel and Daisy not only have a murder to solve: they have to prove one happened in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the crime before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally), Hazel and Daisy must hunt for evidence, spy on their suspects and use all the cunning and intuition they can muster. But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?

My thoughts

I’d been wanting to read this this first book in the series since publication but you know…anyhow I borrowed this copy from niece and read over the Christmas break.

All in all the mystery is well plotted and constructed, and I enjoyed unravelling the clues alongside and at the same pace as the girls; their deducing was very well thought out, so much better than my own – ha! and this is just how I imagine Miss Marple would have been written as a child character.

The boarding school setting and the period in which it’s set, I’m assuming 1930s or 40s, was all very jolly hockey sticks and middle class.  There’s a case to be made that the author has tried a little hard to make the book over-British, there’s quite a lot of explanation that I don’t really think was necessary, the readers could be given a little more credit for understanding and again, the glossary at the end was somewhat overkill.

There’s an undercurrent of lesbianism which is hinted in the girls pashes and other plotlines  but these are never fully explored – a sign of the times I suppose.

My biggest problem with the book was Daisy! Without wishing to offend anyone, particularly the author, (as I’ve met her, she’s lovely) but Daisy is an out and out b*tch!  This was one part of the book, and quite a significant part that I just didn’t gel with.  She bullied Hazel from day one and dismissed her over and over, why would anyone want to be her friend? Oh I get the whole fitting in and emulation but she’s just not a nice character and this really frustrated me as a reader.  This is the first in the series and I think I’d only continue if I could be reassured that Daisy starts to treat Hazel a whole lot better!

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Links: Twitter | Website

Small print for info
Source: Borrowed
No of pages: 352
Publisher: Puffin

Book Review: A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

a-boy-called-christmasWhat’s it about?

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.

It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and a boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

 

 

My thoughts

Well I finished this delightful little book last night and even though I’m terribly behind on my reviews, I had to push this to the top of the to do list.  So here I am, sat in bed with my Christmas cold tapping out my thoughts before 2017 lands!

“Impossible – An old elf swear word”

So here we have an alternative Father Christmas story and in my opinion one that makes perfect sense.  By his own admission the author tells us readers that if you are not a believer in magical occurrences then put the book down…

“But if you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away.  It is most certainly not for you.”

Well I’m not one for magical realism but that little sentence was really just a challenge….go on I dare you to read it!  So I did and I found it to be rather lovely and just what I needed to be reading this week.  From the first few pages I enjoyed the humour, the one-liners and later the cheesy elf jokes, they can’t help but put a smile upon your face!

Nikolas is such a brave, sweet character that I was rooting for him from the very beginning, he has to make some difficult choices for someone so young and deal with some exceptionally hard tasks that are not without sacrifice which will have you willing him on all the more.  I suppose you could say it’s a cross between a fairy story and a moral as strains of the story are about doing the right thing even if it means losing something or someone that you love.

A feel-good book that is for children and adults to read alone or share and one that is crying out to be made into an animated movie a la Arthur Christmas! (and the glittery sparkly cover is an added bonus!).

Book Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Links: Twitter | Website

Small print for info
Source: Borrowed
No of pages: 266
Publisher: Canongate

Book Reviews: The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow and The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine

the-mystery-of-the-clockwork-sparrowthe-mystery-of-the-jewelled-moth

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are they about?

The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow
Enter a world of bonbons, hats, perfumes and mysteries around every corner. Wonder at the daring theft of the priceless CLOCKWORK SPARROW! Tremble as the most dastardly criminals in London enact their wicked plans! Gasp as our bold heroines, Miss Sophie Taylor and Miss Lilian Rose, crack codes, devour iced buns and vow to bring the villains to justice…

The Mystery of the Jewelled Moth
THE HONOUR OF YOUR COMPANY IS REQUESTED AT LORD BEAUCASTLE’S FANCY DRESS BALL.
Wonder at the puzzling disappearance of the Jewelled Moth! Marvel as our heroines, Sophie and Lil, don cunning disguises, mingle in high society and munch many cucumber sandwiches to solve this curious case! Applaud their bravery as they follow a trail of terrible secrets that leads straight to London’s most dangerous criminal mastermind, and could put their own lives at risk . . .It will be the most thrilling event of the season!

My thoughts

I’d had The Clockwork Sparrow on my TBR since seeing Katherine Woodfine at Cheltenham Literary Festival with Robin Stevens  last year.  I picked these books up recently as my ten-year-old niece had read the first and I’d just bought her the second for her birthday, so it gives us something to chat about.

I decided to review together as of course, they’re similar in style and tone and I didn’t have much difference in opinion between them so it made sense.

The main characters all bring something different to the stories and as with books like Nancy Drew, you’ll get swept along in their adventures and scrapes praying for a happy ending!  Both books could be read as a standalone but I think it’s best to read in order as although each has their own main mystery, there is an underlying mystery that carries through them both and will continue into the third.

I preferred the Clockwork Sparrow as it was predominantly set in the Sinclair’s store and because as a reader you feel immersed in the store with all its feeling of opulence and richness  contrasted with all the ‘below stairs’ hubbub and activity.  Whereas Jewelled Moth happens mostly away from the store.  Strangely, I noticed similarities between Jewelled Moth and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (having recently read it, it’s quite fresh in my mind).  The missing jewel in this book is the Moonbeam Diamond, Wilkie’s being the moonstone, the ladies who have the jewel stolen are of the same age and class standing, both diamonds were supposed to be cursed by some ancient villagers and both books even have characters called Betteredge which is quite an unusual name.  The thing was, once I’d decided they were similar I kept looking out for other similarities.  Still an enjoyable read though and if you liked the TV series Mr Selfridge these books should delight you.

I also think it’s worth mentioning that both books contain beautiful illustrations throughout which deserve recognition in their own right.

Overall, fun capers to be had and perfect for children and adults alike these books are best served on Sunday afternoons together with tea and buns!

Book links for Clockwork Sparrow: Goodreads | Amazon

Book links for Jewelled Moth: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Katherine Woodfine: Twitter | Website

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Source: Purchased/Prize
Publisher: Egmont


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Book Review: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A_Monster_CallsWhat’s it about?

The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

 

My thoughts

This is a sad book, there’s no getting round it you’ll probably cry or like me, very nearly will. From the opening chapter you know this won’t end well.

“But she wasn’t in the kitchen. Which meant she was probably still up in her bed. Which meant Conor would have to make his own breakfast, something he’d grown used to doing.”

Although at 13 I was definitely making my own breakfast, but this just seems more poignant and heart-breaking in this book and this is only chapter 2!

From the start I wanted to know what was Conor’s monster? I had this feeling by his actions in his Grandma’s lounge and at school that it was some kind of grief/stress induced schizophrenia (if that even is a thing) – and I was torn between it needing a diagnosis and not as I do like things to be quite cut and dried. I wanted more clarity and confirmation. However, knowing Ness’ style and genre I found myself questioning what was real and what wasn’t; obviously the tree trucking up to school wasn’t which made me then question Conor’s condition more. But I suppose for the purpose of the book’s target audience and age range it probably didn’t need a name, but I was left wondering…..and overthinking it!

I loved the black and white illustrations in this edition; they were very dark, atmospheric and haunting which match the book perfectly.

Due to its subject matter I don’t think this is a book you enjoy, it’s a book you appreciate and hold dear for the comfort it may give someone in this situation and my eyes were filled with tears during the last few pages.

p.s for now, I think I’m all Nessed out!

Watch the forthcoming movie trailer here

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author, Patrick Ness

Twitter | Website | Facebook