Kids Book Reviews by Genre: Mystery

Journey's End
Hawkins, Rachel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After her parents split, Georgia girl Nolie Stanhope finds herself spending her summer in a mysterious town called "Journey's End" in Scotland while her father investigates a mysterious fog (known as The Boundary) that's plagued the local village folk for centuries. Nolie is pretty excited - in addition to some sweet international travel, she's an avid ghost enthusiast, and feels like the summer might be promising in that department. And she is pretty immediately proven right! When Nolie and her new Scottish friend Bel see a weird dude walking down the beach, they think they've seen a ghost. Have they? And why is the Boundary suddenly moving closer to shore?

This was a pretty great MG ghost story. The setting is wonderful - Scotland sort of lends itself to mystery, and Hawkins imbues the village of Journey's End with a ton of charm, personality, and a touch of creepiness. Both of the lead characters, Bel and Nolie, were pretty well fleshed out with distinctive and likable personalities. Their friendship, while quickly formed, was believable and would be a great example for young girls. There's a bit of bullying and some exposition about the effects of divorce, so some important relatable issues are addressed. The Boundary itself is a fantastic and appropriately creepy mystery centerpiece. Really, my only complaint is that there was a ton of build-up to a mystery/ghost story that was pretty quickly and too easily resolved. But I'm a tough customer when it comes to middle grade reads, and overall, this one was pretty great so I'll go with the 4 star rating. I'll definitely be booktalking this one with sixth graders in the fall.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Serafina and the Black Cloak
Beatty, Robert
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Serafina is the Chief Rat Catcher at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. She and her Pa secretly live in the basement, where he is basically the electrical engineer of the place. Serafina's presence in the house is a secret so she mostly traverses the estate through tunnels and doesn't go outside. One night, she witnesses a man in a black coat magically abducting a child, which changes everything.

I listened to this book, and the narrator didn't really do it any favors. Her Southern accent was pretty terrible, but thankfully, she kept forgetting to use it. Narration aside though, this book had some problems. The author took a cool premise and an even cooler setting and then wrote a really boring book. There were kind of two main things going on that should have been really interesting, but weren't. The first thing was the identity of the man in the black coat, which was painfully obvious from the start. Had Beatty done a kiddo type version of an Agatha Christie novel (these are the people at the Biltmore estate...and one of them is guilty of MURDER MOST FOUL), I'd probably be typing a really different review right now. Alternatively, he could've played up Serafina's secret a bit more, and that might have made things more interesting. As it was, even though there was a lot going on, nothing of importance ever seemed to really happen.

I also found myself getting annoyed by a fictional Vanderbilt named Braedan (weird name for a kid of Dutch origins in 1899, dontcha think?) who is a bit of a love interest. Every part featuring him was pretty painful as Serafina basically becomes a useless quivering mess when he's around. Blegh. Oh, and at one point, a character says something along the lines of "you don't call girls heroes, you call them heroines" which, just, are you trying to say that girls can't be heroes? Because if so, gross. I'm paraphrasing, but that's what I took away from the statement.

But on the other hand... look at that cover! Gorgeous.

If 1.5 stars was an option, that's what we'd be doing here. I liked the beginning, the premise and the setting, but wish the author had done more with the latter two elements.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Neil Flambe and The Crusader's Curse
Sylvester, Kevin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Neil Flambe may be a very annoying person, but at least he's got his nose and his talent for cooking to back it up. But then all the sudden his talent starts to take a turn for the worse. At his restaurant, Chez Flambe, all of his food is being taken back, he get's complaints from his costumers, and all the sudden his restaurant has been forced to close down due to reports of food poisoning. Then to add on to all of his problems, Neil discovers that there is a family curse that has stopped Flambe chef's for centuries. Now he is being forced to go into a chef cook-off and could lose everything if he makes one mistake. Neil suddenly has stepped into a mess that even, he thinks, he can't cook his way out of.

I picked this book because as I first read this book, I couldn't put it down.
The author pulled me into all of the problems of the story making me engaged in the story quickly and slowly showing me how it was going to end.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Isabella P.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Stewart, Trenton
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

After passing a peculiar test found in an ad in the newspaper, four gifted children are given a mission: attend the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened to defeat a malicious organization with hypnotizing abilities.
Judging from the summary, it seems like an overdone cliche novel, but it really isn't.
The characters are all quirky and diverse, but I was still able to relate to them; it was fun reading about all of them. They all had their own gifts and talents that made them unique from each other.
It had a perfect mixture of action, suspense, mystery, and a touch of adventure.
The plot was engaging and all of the events and trials that occurred were compelling and captivating. I was never bored when reading this. The solutions the main characters came up with when faced with a problem was always clever and left me impressed that the author was able to come up with such a smart answer.
All of the plot twists were incredible and had me at the edge of my seat!
The Mysterious Benedict Society is an amazing book, and I couldn't put it down. It seems impossible to hate this book. All of the people I've met that have read this book (granted, I've only met a few people who have) love it.
I'm sure you would too.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
Genres:
When You Reach Me
Stead, Rebecca
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Sixth grader Miranda Sinclair started receiving strange letters that somehow predict the future. After she got more and more letters, Miranda was determined to solve the mystery behind them.
The novel really conveys the feeling of normalcy; it seems like the every-day life of an ordinary middle schooler, but when the future-predictions letters are added into the mix, it feels surreal- almost dream-like.
It got a little confusing in the middle for me because I couldn't understand why the characters were doing what they were doing, but it all gets brilliantly explained at the end. The way it all tied up was wonderful and worth all of the confusion; the ending really was the best part.
The characters were all like ordinary people I'd see everyday, which gave me the feeling that I was reading realistic fiction rather than science-fiction.
Their personalities weren't typical and they weren't just generic personalities (e.g., a a mean popular girl or a nerdy unpopular kid).
Reading When You Reach Me was a roller-coaster (especially the last part!) and I really recommend it to everyone.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
Stewart, Trenton
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When Nicholas Benedict, a prodigal nine-year-old orphan suffering from Narcolepsy (a condition that causes sudden bouts of sleep), hears a rumor that there are millions of dollars hidden in the orphanage he just got transferred to, he is determined to find out where it is.
One great aspect of the novel is the main character. In the beginning of the book, Nicholas Benedict was very cynical and only saw the bad in people due to his past experiences, but as the story continued, he started to learn that good people did actually exist, and began to aspire to be like those people as well; reading this development of the main character was a very nice experience. I liked the fact that Nicholas wasn't perfect and despite the fact that he was a genius, there were times when he acted like a child; because of this, he seemed more like an actual person. Nicholas's intelligence continually surprised me, and I couldn't predict anything he would do, which made me want to find out what happened next. Most of the other characters had a lot of personality as well, and I found myself relating to some of them; they had vices and they had virtues, just like any other person.
There are many uncommon words in this book, so it is very likely that you will coming across a word you don't know.
I chose to read this because I first read The Mysterious Benedict Society series, and this book is the prequel.
I usually stay away from mystery novels, but The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is an exception. Whether you like mystery novels or not is irrelevant when it comes to this; I think everyone should read this.I honestly couldn't put this book down; I read it all in one go. I consider this my most favorite book!
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X.
Awards:
The Candymakers
Mass, Wendy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about a group of children who specialize in candy making. After all, it is expected, since they are the legacies of famous candy inventors. I picked this book because very many people in my grade have read it and liked it. I enjoyed the imagery in this book. I did not enjoy that the suspense was not very exciting. This book both surprised me and was predictable. I can relate to some of the characters because I like other people. This is one of the best books I have read all year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Alex L.
Awards:
Genres:
“Who Could That be at This Hour?”
Snicket, Lemony
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A mysterious town no longer by the sea. People far more mysterious, with secrets and secret motives. A stolen statue of a mythological creature that was not really stolen. A clueless chaperone with a truly astounding amount of hair. This is the life that almost-thirteen-year-old Lemony Snicket is dropped into during his apprenticeship in the town of Stain’d-by-the-Sea.

The first book in the fictional autobiographic series “All the Wrong Questions” by Lemony Snicket, and prequel to his books, “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, Who Could That be at This Hour? chronicles the first of four wrong questions asked about a perplexing mystery and the perplexing people involved. The fast paced plot, complete with the humorous yet thought-provoking narration fans of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” will expect, will have you itching to read more. The characters are surprisingly sincere considering some of their over-the-top quirks, but the seeds of suspicion that are sown will make you wonder—along with the protagonist—who exactly can be trusted. One of the best books I have ever read, any mystery fans will find themselves unable to put it down.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Tessa L.
Funke, Cornelia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This fantasy by Cornelia Funke is very entertaining and quite mysterious. It goes from it's interesting title to a twist ending. If I were you I would definitely read this fabulous novel

Reviewer's Name: Weller
Genres:
Mason, Jane B.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I loved how it was so mysterious and how there was a mystery behind it! It was one of my favorite "Poison Apple Books" I've read yet!!! :)

Reviewer's Name: Zoe
Genres:
Lawrence, Caroline
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When Flavia's neighbor's dog is killed, she insists on finding the culprit.

She gets help from her neighbor, Jonathan; freed slave, Nubia; and mute beggar boy, Lupus. Together these friends explore first-century Roman life and culture while solving an intricate mystery. Details of the time period are woven into the story seamlessly. But the friendships and dialogue are timeless and relatable. Every chapter is a cliffhanger and the action is non-stop in this excellent series (The Roman Mysteries). Some violent themes may be too mature for younger readers; I recommend these fantastic reads for nine to ninety. My whole family can't put them down! You'll be glad there are seventeen sequels.

Reviewer's Name: Elisabeth
Genres:
Keene, Carolyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

awsome best books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reviewer's Name: Erica

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