The Book of Lies provides fascinating insight into what it’s like living in both present day Guernsey and past, throughout the German Occupation (duriThe Book of Lies provides fascinating insight into what it’s like living in both present day Guernsey and past, throughout the German Occupation (during World War II and also after the allies had won) and how the Channel Islands were perceived by other nations.
When I first picked up The Book of Lies, I thought it was young adult fiction because this is what I had seen others referring to it as, but then I noticed that the publisher was marketing it as adult fiction. Not that this makes any difference to me, but I thought it was interesting how it fit easily into both, alongside books such as The Book Thief and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Like these books, I believe The Book of Lies can be classified as both due to its dual narrative and narrators (a 15-year-old girl and her uncle Charlie) and the underlying themes presented in the book.
I loved everything about The Book of Lies. I loved Cat’s commentary, which is blunt, amusing and honest in a way only a teenager can be. Cat writes to us about her life; mourning the death of a family member and being treated as an outcast. Cat's school friends torment her and spread lies, leading to the death of Nicolette – Cat's best friend and number one bully. I loved that Cat’s story is interwoven with a transcribed account: Charlie tells us of his time living under the German Occupation, dealing with lies, betrayal and anguish of his own. I loved the footnotes and historical information, which I found to be both informative and engaging. I loved the messages presented in the storyline as well as the mystery aspect – what really happened and why? It teaches us that the truth can differ depending on perspective.
The Book of Lies is a wonderful, unforgettable novel about the complexities of truth and lies. I found it to be a thoroughly emotive and enlightening read. The Channel Islands were not something I knew much about and so I’ve now moved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society up on my “wishlist” as it is also about the German occupation of Guernsey.
This book was obtained as an eGalley from Harper Perennial.
The publisher describes Dark Inside as “28 Days Later meets The Road” and another reviewer described it as “Zombieland meets The Crazies”. That’s EXACThe publisher describes Dark Inside as “28 Days Later meets The Road” and another reviewer described it as “Zombieland meets The Crazies”. That’s EXACTLY what Dark Inside is. It’s a post-apocalyptic survival novel with zombies. These aren’t your typical zombies, they don’t look that different from us, which makes them even more dangerous. They’re ‘normal’ people that have become infected with some sort of disease that causes them to break out in a murderous, destructive rage. They travel across towns, cities and countryside tearing people apart and calculatingly destroy everything in their path.
I really, really loved Dark Inside. I’d stay up until the early hours of the morning reading it (not recommended – I was terrified) because I wanted to find out what happens to each of our four main characters: Mason, Michael, Clementine and Aries, travelling separately and unbeknown to each other, but with the same goal – to survive. The stories are distinct and memorable, and Jeyn Roberts strategically reminds us in every chapter about which story we’re reading so we don’t get confused, but it never seems forced. I identified with, and loved, each of the characters. I originally thought I’d finish the book with a clear favourite but I ended up rooting for them all equally. There’s the addition of a mysterious character in some chapters – “Nothing” (who we’re introduced to in the very first chapter), which makes the book even more eerie.
Dark Inside is also another case of a book being portrayed as dystopia even though there’s nothing dystopian about it, so bear that in mind if you’re thinking it’s a young adult dystopian novel (and I’ve referred to it as that previously). It’s not, but it’s definitely worth reading. I cannot even think of anything that I disliked about this book. It’s one of my favourites of this year so far (and I’ve read 63!). It’s exciting, emotional, thrilling, and it even has its humorous moments. It’s just so good.
Thank you Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me this book to review!
Please note that while I have tried to avoid mentioning any spoilers, it was pretty hard to write this review without referring to anything specific,Please note that while I have tried to avoid mentioning any spoilers, it was pretty hard to write this review without referring to anything specific, so I cannot guarantee that you won't read anything you didn't want to know!
I first heard about Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children last year and made a post about it, sharing the super creepy movie-like book trailer and extract, but for no good reason it at all, it has taken me a year to pick it up. I, like most people, was instantly drawn to it because of the cover and old photographs that are scattered throughout the book. I didn't realise at the time that these are vintage photographs — actually real and taken from personal collections — rather than created especially for the book. This is just one aspect of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children that adds exciting realism to the story.
Jacob's grandfather, Abraham Portman, escaped the Nazis during WWII, though his family were not as fortunate, but there are other 'monsters' that continue to haunt him. In contrast, Jacob has spent most of his 'ordinary' life listening to his grandfather's 'fairy tales' of mysterious children who can levitate, become invisible, and play host to a swarm of bees. Jacob is about to experience just how extraordinary his life could be...
Ransom Riggs expertly crafts eerie anticipation and build-up throughout the story. It is slow, but doesn't at all drag. Cairnholm reminded me a little of Shutter Island and that's how I pictured it - perfectly average, in a way, but tinged with a sense of something not quite right. Although you might first assume that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a horror novel, it is neither horror nor a thriller, but instead a spectacular, bizarre mystery. A highlight of the novel for me was watching everything unravel and become clear to Jacob as well as myself. Who is Miss Peregrine? What happened to the orphanage? What part does Abe play? Halfway through the story, these questions begin to be answered, and it takes us to a world of fantasy and folklore involving the peculiars. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a wonderfully cinematic story and I could easily visualise every odd conversation, every magical curiosity, every discovery, leading up to the 'big event' at the end of the book.
The magical elements were gripping, even though it is not my first choice of genre, because it constantly blurred the boundaries between fantasy and reality, which made me go with the story and believe it could be true. I thought that every single character stood out (in particular Emma and Millard!) although I wish we could have found out more about their individual histories (perhaps in the sequel, published next year?). I also think it would've been interesting (and possibly creepier) if the children acted more as adults, because, after all, some of them are over one hundred years old. But, then again, they are not exactly 'normal' human beings. Even so, I thought everything - the pacing, the little dropped hints, the strange events, and Jacob's narrative, worked together extremely well to create a fascinating and enjoyable plot.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a wonderfully unique and inventive book with colourful characters, a mysterious story, and a splash of historical relevance, incorporating vintage photographs that bring the story to life.
I chose Betsy-Tacy to be my ninth classic of the year after I came across it while browsing my bookshelves. It's a book I haven't read for a long timeI chose Betsy-Tacy to be my ninth classic of the year after I came across it while browsing my bookshelves. It's a book I haven't read for a long time, perhaps 16 or 17 years. I remembered really enjoying the story and the illustrations as a young child so I thought it'd be perfect for my classics challenge and my attempt to read more children's classics.
Betsy-Tacy is the first book in a series, first published in 1940. It tells the story of two five-year-old girls – Betsy and Tacy – and the antics they get up to right up until marriage. I didn't know it at the time, but the series has 10 books! I only have the first book, showing how Betsy and Tacy first met (which did not go as planned for poor Betsy!) to how they came to be the best of friends. I adore how charming the book is. It's full of picnics on a hill, playing with paper dolls, turning a piano box into a playhouse, and dyeing sand the colour of Easter Eggs and putting it in fancy glass bottles to sell. It's old-fashioned and quaint and seems so far away from childhood today, but actually, even though I grew up in the 90s, it was actually quite similar. I loved to cross-stitch, turn the most unusual places (i.e. a very large fallen tree branch) into the most magical places, and I even had a kit where you'd put coloured sand into water, mould it, and put it into bottles! It was lovely to cuddle up with a blanket and go back to a time when the entertainment technology we use day-to-day didn't exist, only imagination.
Betsy-Tacy is a lovely story that's very idealistic in a white-picket-fence sort of way. Betsy and Tacy rarely suffer deep heartache or trouble, and when they do, it's brushed over quite quickly because it's simply not that sort of novel. It is meant to be delightful and charming, even with Betsy wailing about her new sister: 'It's a perfectly unnecessary baby'. It's in the vein of Little House and the Prairie and Milly-Molly-Mandy and has some wonderful illustrations, which really do add to the sweet story (although, as I've said before, I wish all stories had illustrations in them). It's an extremely quick novel to read, but hopefully I'll be able to find the next 9 books to see what happens to our two heroines.
I felt like reading this children's classic again! I haven't read Milly-Molly-Mandy stories since I was very young - they were among my favourites. II felt like reading this children's classic again! I haven't read Milly-Molly-Mandy stories since I was very young - they were among my favourites. I adore the illustrations. I want to live in an attic and be able to buy a chick for a penny!...more
A Monster Calls is a work of art. I’m not a prolific children’s books reader; I enjoy many young adult books but I often fail to fully appreciate noveA Monster Calls is a work of art. I’m not a prolific children’s books reader; I enjoy many young adult books but I often fail to fully appreciate novels written for a much younger age group. A Monster Calls is an exception to this rule. The novel blends realistic fiction and fantasy to create an unforgettable, inspiring novel.
In A Monster Calls, a young boy attempts to come to terms with his mother’s illness and inevitable death through a monster appearing in tree-form. It is beautifully written and Ness expertly describes what one might be going through in this situation. The fantasy element added intrigue and excitement to the story as well as being an instrument through which we learn that…. Well, no. I’m going to have to let you find that out for yourself.
The original story idea came from children’s author Siobhan Dowd but she passed away after being diagnosed with cancer before she had a chance to write it herself. Patrick Ness was asked to turn her work into a book. He states that he wanted to write “a book that Siobhan would like” and I believe he’s succeeded. A Monster Calls is a beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated novel about grief, loss and death.
The novel itself is fantastic but I really must emphasise how much the design and illustrations add to this book. I’ve often commented on how the reading experience of print books and ebooks are not that different. I stand by this for the majority of novels, but I failed to take into account books like this – books that are a work of art. It is something that technology is unable to stand up against. The illustrations are breathtaking – Jim Kay did a brilliant job. It really makes me wish that all novels had illustrations. I couldn’t wait to turn each page to find out what happened next in the story but also because I was eager to view each striking, haunting image. The attention to detail is impeccable and it really makes for a memorable book. I debated whether to buy this on the Kindle or to get the hardcover and I’m really glad that I went with the print book. The illustrations are not included in the ebook version and this is a terrible shame. A Monster Calls something that I hope to pass down when I have children and I can just imagine us reading the book together at bedtime.
The story screams ‘Patrick Ness’. The way he is able to describe grief and pain, and his use of imagery, is honest and beautiful. I adored Conner, our main character, and I was with him every step of the way, throughout his confusion, anger and sadness. I had to fight back tears at the end of the book. The addition of the ‘monster’ may sound silly and infantile as I’m describing it but it’s essential to the plot – it’s not just a ‘monsters under the bed’-type story. The monster is terrifying at times but also is a unique character that serves a positive purpose.
I’ve only read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and so this may be a little premature, but I think fans of Gaiman would love this book. I felt that both the story and black & white illustrations were of a similar style – a children’s story with an important message that can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all ages. It’s a book that you’ll cherish for a long, long time.
I was browsing my library's catalogue and I had the sudden urge to check whether they had Maus. I knew they stocked graphic novels because I borrowedI was browsing my library's catalogue and I had the sudden urge to check whether they had Maus. I knew they stocked graphic novels because I borrowed Scott Pilgrim last year. Maus is one that I've been wanting to read for quite a while – I really love WWI and WWII novels and included it in my post on Conflict in Books, although I haven't read many - but I also didn't want to read it because I was afraid that I'd find it too upsetting.
The Complete Maus contains Maus I: A Survivor's Tale and Maus II, and is the story of Vladek and Anja Spiegelman, living and surviving in Hitler's Europe. It is written and illustrated by Art Spiegelman, also known as Artie, from his father's memory. Out of the many, many books about the Holocaust, I can see why Maus is hailed to be one of the most exceptional and essential, and why it won the Pulitzer Prize.
Maus' graphic novel-style approach means that you're not only reading, but almost watching, the Holocaust. It's surprising then – or perhaps not so surprising, since it is about humans after all – that it is occasionally humorous. Vladek has the ability to experience joy even in the most tragic of situations, as well as banter with his son. Maus does not serve to be an overview of the causes of, and events leading up to, the Holocaufst, but is an honest portrayal of one couple's personal experience of trust and betrayal, separation and reunion, starvation and torture, and most of all, survival, in time that resulted in the death of 6 million Jewish people.
It's almost unthinkable and nowadays. People may think they know how they would respond to such a terrible act, but Vladek and Anja Spiegelman's story shows how difficult it was, in the 1930s and early 1940s, for people – from fellow Jews to the Polish– to decide whether they should help those in need or protect themselves. It was impossible to know who to trust as your own family could refuse to help you escape a ghetto, or they could turn you over to the Gestapo, if they thought being selfless could get them killed, and people would offer to hide you away from the Germans, but only if they were getting paid. Maus does not shy away from the most harrowing experiences, especially those involving children, but depicts them in a sensitive yet honest way.
If you've not yet read a book about WWII or the Holocaust, then please do pick up Maus. What always strikes me, and what I find most terrifying, is that these events are seen as history, but they did not occur that long ago, perhaps in your own parents' or grandparents' lifetime, which is not a very long time at all.
Alex is home alone for the weekend when the Yellowstone supervolcano unexpectedly erupts. Volcanic ash rains down heavily on millions of people, blockAlex is home alone for the weekend when the Yellowstone supervolcano unexpectedly erupts. Volcanic ash rains down heavily on millions of people, blocking out the sun and covering parts of the USA in thick ashfall. Alex’s home is also destroyed after debris from the cataclysm causes a fire. Rather than staying in Iowa, Alex leaves to find his parents in Illinois, with little food and drink and only his ski jacket and skis to support him in the perilous trek. On his journey, Alex meets Darla, a knowledgeable, practical girl, and a strong relationship brews as they support each other in their attempt to survive in a changed world.
Ashfall is noticeably long for a young adult novel – nearly 500 pages, but I rushed through it in two days, staying up until 1am because I couldn’t put it down. Post-apocalyptic novels seem to be the only genre that continues to have an effect on me even when I’ve stopped reading. I couldn’t wander through London, with the sky growing darker and darker, without feeling as though I was enduring the Yellowstone supervolcano eruption. Mike Mullin skilfully describes what living during an apocalyptic event might be like. The supervolcano is a genuine concern and the novel is based on scientific evidence, making it feel terrifyingly realistic.
The story also depicts the way humanity might be affected by such an event – the way humans will strive to protect themselves, even if it means killing another human (and in the most gruesome of ways). It also shows the reverse – the kindness that others exhibit even though it may not been in their best interest. The reader is introduced to a myriad of contrasting characters, in particular, an eighteen year old girl named Darla. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Alex and Darla’s relationship brew. The couple go through life changing events but continue to support each other both emotionally and physically. However, Ashfall is a survival story, not a romance novel, and their relationship isn’t the main focus of the novel.
Ashfall is an extremely detailed, apocalyptic tale of emotional strength and persistence, a darker, grittier version of Life as We Knew It.
This book was obtained as an eGalley from Tanglewood Press.
Pure would win an award for one of the most imaginative post-apocalyptic worlds I’ve come across. At first, the characters are seemingly in a us4.5/5
Pure would win an award for one of the most imaginative post-apocalyptic worlds I’ve come across. At first, the characters are seemingly in a usual end-of-the-world situation: a cataclysmic event has caused everything to be destroyed; people are left with nothing – no food, no comfortable shelter, just injured bodies and loved ones who have died. But there’s a twist. A horrifying, brilliant twist. I really wish I could mention it in this review – and I was originally going to – but I think it’d ruin the experience of discovering what is strange about this seemingly typical, desolate world.
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or life Before. Now, before her sixteenth birthday, she has to get away. In her totalitarian society, people have to hand themselves in to the militia at the age of sixteen, where they’re then trained to be soldiers or used as live targets if they’re too injured to perform. Unexpectedly, she meets a Pure called Partridge. Pures are healthy people who live inside the protected Dome, among those who rule society. Somehow Partridge has escaped the safety of the Dome and is searching for someone outside…
Pure is brilliantly written. The story is interesting enough that the slow pace of the novel doesn’t let it down but actually enhances the experience, giving the reader time to comprehend the significance of every truth revealed. It also has host of fascinating characters, including our two protagonists Pressia and Partridge. I loved coming across every new character and trying to work out whether they were good or bad. But Pure‘s characters, like real people, do not neatly fit into one neat category. As demonstrated by the post-Detonations ‘I Remember’ game that those outside of the Dome play, each has their own story to tell. Pressia and Partridge go on a roller coaster of a journey finding out where they both belong in a world where the past is ignored, forgotten, denied.
I only had one issue with the book which is that it’s part of a trilogy. I was disappointed when I began to realise that I wasn’t going to be given the full story. Pure had the potential to be a brilliant standalone novel, but the upside is that we’ll all get to read more of Julianna Baggot’s fantastic story.
Pure is an imaginative, stand out, and complex novel set in a believable post-apocalyptic world. I was thrilled to discover that the movie rights have already been acquired because it’s wonderfully cinematic. It’s definitely a highlight among the myriad of dystopia/post-apocalyptic novels out there right now.
Dystopian or Not Dystopian? Slightly dystopian, more post-apocalyptic
Thank you Headline for providing me this book for review!
First of all, this is hands down one of the most beautiful, eye-catching book covers that I have ever seen. I love the dramatic fireball, the strikingFirst of all, this is hands down one of the most beautiful, eye-catching book covers that I have ever seen. I love the dramatic fireball, the striking title, and the captivating, haunting landscape. It's even more beautiful in person. It's SHINY!
Divergent is addictive from the very first page. I was so annoyed when I began reading it on the train and then had to get off because it was my stop. I just didn't want to stop reading. And, on the way home, I nearly missed my stop because I was so immersed in the storyline. I spent a whole weekend reading it and I can understand why it has received so many positive remarks and hype.
I found Beatrice to be an extremely likeable character who is instrumental in demonstrating to us just why free will is worth fighting for. The dystopian Chicago was believable and thoroughly interesting. You know that the world-building is great when you want to know everything about it - the history, the cause, life in other factions. As in many YA dystopia novels, there's a love interest - Four. Four is an extremely attractive and unreadable bad boy who has a cryptic past. It's easy to see why he's a favourite character amongst Divergent fans. However, what I found interesting is that the romance is not the main focus of the storyline; it does not revolve around overemotional relationships, but is about the brewing conflicts between factions.
There was less action than I thought there would be but there was still plenty of it and it was exciting, violent and grim. It made me realise that I'd never be able to choose Dauntless and that I'm not selfless enough to choose Abnegation. I'd most likely choose between Erudite (unsurprisingly! They do love their books) or Amity (although I really wanted to find out more about them - perhaps in the sequels?). Nonetheless, the balance between events was done very well. They were neither too drawn out nor too fast-paced to develop properly. Divergent is not completely unique within dystopian literature; I felt comfortable reading it - certain aspects were very familiar to me, but it was distinctive enough to ensure that it always kept me on edge.
What is incredible, to me, is that Veronica Roth is the same age as me - 22. Divergent is perfect for those feeling empty after the end of The Hunger Games trilogy and the film rights have already been snapped up, which I am very excited about. The sequel is out next year. Roll on 2012 and 2013!
Eight Keys is a truly beautiful book. I adore everything about the cover, that it’s a hardback without being too big to carry around, and, of course,Eight Keys is a truly beautiful book. I adore everything about the cover, that it’s a hardback without being too big to carry around, and, of course, the story. Eight Keys is an emotional, moving children's book about a 12-year-old girl's realistic experience of life.
The main themes in this book are love, family, friendship, and bullying. Elise, our main character, is far from perfect but the reader cannot help but empathise and encourage her throughout her character development. Eight Keys explores many of the thoughts, feelings, insecurities and experiences that children go through in school, especially during that awkward stage between being a child and a teenager.
A really interesting aspect of the story is what the book's title is derived from. Elise has lived with her aunt and uncle most of her life as her mother died giving birth and her father died of cancer shortly after. After Elise's 12th birthday, she discovers a key that unlocks one of the 8 rooms in her aunt and uncle's barn. She eventually unlocks each of the rooms that her father created especially for her. This was my favourite part of Eight Keys and it's also an extremely emotional part of the story. It was heartbreaking reading Elise say to herself that her existence wasn't worth her mother dying for.
As for the bullying, it's something we've most likely all been through and I thought it was a realistic portrayal. Children often keep it to themselves if they're being bullied and Eight Keys recognises this, and the dilemma, whilst encouraging children to open up.
I loved Eight Keys and I would most likely have loved it even more as a child (its target readership is children aged 9+). I'm looking forward to reading Suzanne LaFleur's debut novel Love, Aubrey.
Thank you Puffin Books for sending me this book to review!
Sleuth on Skates was given to me by my friend Cait (while we were waiting at the theatre for Matilda to begin, appropriately) as she knew that I wanteSleuth on Skates was given to me by my friend Cait (while we were waiting at the theatre for Matilda to begin, appropriately) as she knew that I wanted to read more middle grade books. I adored the cover - I love mystery and stuff that is cute and also what's the deal with the ducks? – so I couldn't wait to start a fun, surprising adventure with young Sesame Seade.
Sleuth on Skates is a smart, funny new contemporary mystery series accompanied by witty illustrations, beautifully drawn by Sarah Horne, and a brilliantly loquacious heroine. Sleuth on Skates is perfect for those who want to check out more middle grade stories as it's packed full of little references that older readers (okay, you caught me, I'm referring to adults) will enjoy as well as children. As a Marketing Executive, I found myself revelling in the scene where Sesame's mother explains just exactly what marketing is...
Sesame Seade is a super sleuth on skates – a stealthy detective on wheels – and she has been waiting eleven years, five months and seventeen days for a mysterious mission – and now she finally has one. Sesame – also known as Sophie, for her parents inexplicably refuse to call her by her real name – finds university students either boring or disgusting, but unfortunately one of them at Christ's College, Cambridge University, has disappeared. Jenna Jenkins has been missing for two days and although Sesame wonders for a second as to whether Jenna just went home for the weekend and her parents decided to sell her as a slave, as soon as she discovers that she was supposed to play the lead role in Swan Lake and was Editor-in-Cheif of UniGossip magazine, Sesame accepts that not everything is as it seems in the usually disappointingly boring and mystery-free town of Cambridge.
Sleuth on Skates is an ingeniously complex and inventive children's novel – with excellent foreshadowing! – and with a brilliant young protagonist at the forefront. If you think it looks simple and sweet, be warned, as Sesame Seade is sure to have made child Sherlock look like an amateur. If I had to be an 11-year-old again, I'd want to be as cool, as fearless and as intelligent as Sesame. It's not often that I find books funny, I'll be honest, but every page of Sleuth on Skates had me smiling, from Sesame's hilarious one-liners to the frequent appearance of a certain pregnant duck. (I'd love for one to follow me around as I courageously extract key information from exclusive sources, with two best friends, Toby and Gemma, at my side!). It also made me smile because the fact that such an example of excellent children's literature exists makes me rather happy. Clémentine Beauvais is an exceptional storyteller who understands children just as much as she understands adults, conjuring up a perfect story that almost everyone will enjoy. I mean it – I'm sharing it with everybody!
Unfortunately, I cannot write nearly as well as the wonderful Sesame Seade speaks, so I'll leave you with some of her best moments:
'I try not to get too attached to [students] because, like rabbits, they only last three or four years and then they're gone'.
'If there are as many connections in your brain as there are stars in the universe, why ask for superpowers?'
'Normally, I would have followed Jesus's advice since my dad works for his dad, but...'.
Sister is a psychological thriller from the viewpoint of Beatrice. Beatrice communicates to her missing sister Tess through a letter or diary-like entSister is a psychological thriller from the viewpoint of Beatrice. Beatrice communicates to her missing sister Tess through a letter or diary-like entries. The plot is centered around her attempts to find out the truth about Tess's disappearance.
I loved this book. Another reviewer described it as a "crime fiction novel for people who don't like crime fiction" and I agree with that description. I've read a few crime fiction novels and really enjoyed them (e.g. the Millenium trilogy) but it can be a difficult genre to get right. I always feel overwhelmed when entering the crime section of a bookstore or library, faced with hundreds of books that look and sound the same. However, Sister stood out to me because it has a beautiful cover and not one you would associated with a crime investigation. It's serene as opposed to bold and bloody. I would have assumed it was more of a family drama novel and I believe this novel bridges the gap between the two genres.
Sister is an extremely easy and captivating read - I particularly enjoyed the ethical debates concerning medicine - and I'm not surprised that it was on the UK bestsellers list for so long.
edit 2012: I wrote this initially to be a 'personal review' so it's not very good, but I'm sure my enthusiasm for the book still comes across ;)...more
Dead Man's Cove was the first book chosen for my monthly book club. I had been wanting to read it for a while because it sounded like a perfect middleDead Man's Cove was the first book chosen for my monthly book club. I had been wanting to read it for a while because it sounded like a perfect middle grade adventure and mystery in the vein of Enid Blyton, plus the cover is stunning! Dead Man's Cove is the first story in the Laura Marlin Mysteries series, following 11-year-old Laura as she works on becoming an ace detective, inspired by her favourite fictional detective Matt Walker. Laura is living in Sylvan Meadow's Children's Home when she is discovered by her uncle, Calvin Redfern, and taken to live in St Ives, Cornwall, where her detective skills are about to be put to use.
Middle grade mysteries are among my favourite books to read because they're so much fun and Dead Man's Cove certainly isn't short of mysteries to figure out. Why is the cove so dangerous? Is Tariq, the shopkeeper's quiet son, who he appears to be? Why is the housekeeper, Mrs Webb, so mean? Does her uncle really work in the fisheries? And what does Laura have to do to find her place in St Ives? Dead Man's Cove was (to my delight!) much more complicated and darker than expected, but it also leaves you nostalgic for a childhood you (likely) never had, full of breakfast by the sea, accompanied by a loyal Siberian Husky named Skye, roaming sand the 'colour of a Labrador puppy'. It made me miss living by the sea while I was at university, waking up to seagulls every morning.
It's not just the mystery that is so wonderful, but also the colourful, vivid and distinct characters. You'll have an opinion on all of them, especially Laura Marlin herself, who is an incredibly passionate, intelligent and brave young girl. Luckily, her uncle Calvin knows she's responsible and gives Laura the space to explore, although he's not so sure that she should be rushing to pick her career so quickly... Mrs Crabtree, Laura's nosy neighbour is hilarious and a brilliant addition to the story, and Mr. Mukhtar, Tariq's father, is suspicious and untrustworthy. But when you're just an 11-year-old, it's difficult to get people to believe you.
Dead Man's Cove is a delightful, nostalgic mystery that'll make you remember the time you pretended to be Harriet the Spy, trying to figure out the puzzle in front of you, and in this modern children's detective story, you'll join Laura as she tries to find a place in her new home. I've already read the World Book Day short story, The Midnight Picnic, and can't wait to start the second book, Kidnap in the Caribbean. Just wonderful!
'They came for her at 6.47am. Laura made a note of the time because she'd been waiting for this moment for eleven years, one month and five days and she wanted always to remember it - the hour her life began.'