Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

Something strange is going on in the little town of Belleville: children are disappearing, but no one seems to notice their absence - no one, that is, except Victoria, whose best friend, Lawrence, is suddenly missing. Adults are lying to her; nasty bugs are running all over the place, and Victoria becomes convinced that Lawrence has been taken to the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls. This one should appeal to fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Series of Unfortunate Events. It was a fun read, but I never really connected to the characters, and the premise of the plot and the truth behind the mystery were a bit too over the top for this adult reader to buy into. However, I doubt the book's intended audience will share my misgivings.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand; illustrated by Sarah Watts (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012)

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Clarity is a teenager who lives on Cape Cod, where her family runs a psychic readings business out of the Victorian home where they live.  Clarity is psychic (she can sense impressions from touching objects); her brother is a medium; and her mother is a telepath.

When a dead body turns up in a local motel, and her brother is suspected of involvement in the crime, Clarity agrees to work with the police (in the form of the new detective's attractive but irritatingly skeptical son) as well as her cheating ex-boyfriend in order to prove her brother's innocence.

I enjoyed this one - it is a fast-paced mystery with characters who had surprising depth, and while the mystery wasn't terribly complex, the characters and their personal lives were compelling enough that it was all good. This one should be an easy sell to the teens at my library, and my 12-year-old daughter enjoyed it immensely.

Books in the Clarity series:
1. Clarity
2. Perception

Clarity by Kim Harrington (Point, 2011)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eye of the Crow

This series features Sherlock Holmes as a boy, and this story is presented as the first mystery he solves. Here Sherlock is the son of an upper-class woman who was spurned by her family when she decided to marry a Jewish intellectual, and the family has fallen on hard times. Sherlock is a half-Jewish outcast, a bright boy who constantly skips school to wander around London, and when a woman is found stabbed to death, and a young Arab boy is falsely accused of her murder, Sherlock uses his wits and knowledge of the city to try to exonerate him.

This was an okay mystery, but because it featured Sherlock as a boy, I found myself not enjoying very much, mainly because I don't believe that, even as a boy, Sherlock could possibly be so completely oblivious to things that I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into him. I thought this series had been recommended to me by some fellow bloggers, but I think it must be a different one featuring a young Sherlock. To readers interested in great Sherlockian mystery series for younger readers, I'd recommend instead Nancy Springer's excellent Enola Holmes series - there is a heroine readers can truly root for.

Eye of the Crow (#1 in the Boy Sherlock Holmes series) by Shane Peacock (Tundra Books, 2007)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator

I saw this book at the book store when I was browsing with a friend a month or two ago, and it looked like something I might enjoy - so I of course picked it up at my library.  Teenage Violet has always had the ability to see ghosts, just like her mother before her, and while her father refuses to discuss the paranormal investigation agency her parents ran together before her mother died, Violet is secretly determined to become an investigator just like her mother. When she decides to investigate the matters surrounding her mother's death, she finds herself in a situation more complicated and dangerous than she could have imagined. Violet is a plucky heroine, and I particularly enjoyed the development of her relationship with her father, as well as the fact that her special abilities are a shared fact, not a secret to be kept from him. The mystery may not be complex enough to satisfy adult readers, but it should be very appealing to its intended audience: teen readers who enjoy a supernatural mystery with engaging characters.

Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator by Jill Baguchinsky (Dutton Books, 2012)

Also reviewed at:
In Bed with Books"Jill Baguchinsky's debut is the perfect novel for people who love paranormal fiction but want something without the now requisite romance."
Just a Lil' Lost: "Spookygirl has an interesting blend of all different kinds, from scary to sappy – it makes for an interesting cast of characters. I did find some of the scenarios a bit too easily explained away, like it was packaged up in a neat bow and problem solved."
Ticket to Anywhere: "The mystery itself that encompassed the main plot was a bit predictable and the ending was a bit underwhelming but overall I did enjoy this story."


I'm back! Sorry for the long absence.  I seem to have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the ranks of the crazy-busy parents whose kids are involved in too many things - while trying (with dubious success) to carve out a space for myself in my own life.

How did this happen? I'm torn between scaling back dramatically on the things we are all involved in and allowing my kids space to explore different things now, while they can.  After all, it's a lot hard to say Hey, I'd like to try out jazz dance! when you're in your thirties. For some of these things, it's probably now or never. What's really sent us over the edge is as they become accomplished at what they do, suddenly they have obligations at the district level (with band) or requests for more performances and invitations to competitions, etc. So how do you say no to that, just as their practice and hard work are paying off?

So I had to take a break for a few weeks to regroup and refocus. This blog is one of my escapes - or at least it's meant to be - and when it turns into a chore on a to-do list, that's when I need to back off. I don't want to add self-created stress to all the outside stress!

Now (of course) I have an enormous backlog of reviews, so here's my plan: The five-sentence book review.  Can she do it? Should be difficult, the way I love to ramble, but I am going to challenge myself to write one five-sentence review as close to every day as I can make it, until I'm caught up.  We'll see how it goes...