Intrigue

Dandelion Wine

photo courtesy of https://www.instagram.com/ad_idaho_photography/

I’m ALIVE. Thinking about it, noticing it, is new. You do things and don’t watch. Then all of a sudden you look and see what you’re doing and it’s the first time, really.”*

Douglas Spaulding, a 12-year-old boy living in Green Town, Illinois, is glad to be alive. It’s summer, 1928, after all, and there are forests to explore, ice creams to eat, and all sorts of adventures to be had. There’s a human time machine, a witch trapped in wax, a junkman who can save lives, two soulmates born in the wrong time, a nighttime murderer, and a man determined to create happiness with a machine. There’s a lot to accomplish in a summer in Green Town, and Douglas Spaulding is planning to live life to the fullest.

Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer, and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one of them.”*

I would highly recommend Dandelion Wine written by Ray Bradbury and published by Doubleday in 1957 for ages 15+. It is a beautiful, half-memoir half-fantasy novel with haunting prose, real themes, and beautiful, life-like characters. There are a few more mature worldview themes to watch out for, but otherwise this is a wholesome read. 5 out of 5 stars.

No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now.”*

*all excerpts taken from Dandelion Wine, written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1957 by Doubleday.

The Outsiders

The Outsiders, written by S.E. Hinton, is a coming-of-age story featuring 1960’s greasers, Socs, cars, switchblades, gangs, books, and family. Read about Ponyboy, his brothers, and their friends as they fight against injustice and prejudice both against them and that they have against others; and not everyone may make it out of the fight alive.

I would recommend this novel for ages 14+. It would fall under the historical fiction and young adult genres and is very well written with an excellent ending. The Outsiders is not one of my favorite books, it was predictable and not one of the most memorable stories I’ve read in my lifetime; there was also some content to watch out for younger readers. 3 out of 5 stars.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles

Hercule Poirot, a charming and quirky retired Belgian police chief, is asked by his friend Hastings to assist in the unravelling of a confusing turn of events. An elderly, wealthy lady has been murdered; the suspects: her new husband, spiteful family, or long-time companion. The solution: one that nobody was expecting. Follow the unofficial detective and his friend as they tear apart the details of this murder at the Styles Estate in a race against the unknown murderer and the English court of law.

I would recommend The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie for ages 16+. This book is a classic whodunit complete with bumbling police chiefs, nighttime murders, dapper detectives, and family intrigue. There are a few mature details to watch out for, including some minor profanity; overall, a well-written and attention-grabbing mystery. 4 out of 5 stars.  

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None is a thrilling, sinister mystery written by Agatha Christie and published as Ten Little Indians in 1939. This chilling story reveals the depravity of the human mind as it unfolds its bloodstained pages; ten strangers, invited to a lonely island by an anonymous host, share their darkest secrets…then one by one, the guests begin to die.

No one is safe from the hand of vengeance.

I would recommend this book for ages 16+. It’s dark and menacing, with a mature theme and twisted morals. The writing is excellent and gripping, the characters sympathetic yet unlikable. Agatha Christie outdid herself in the writing and plotting of this tale, but there are little to no redeeming qualities about the story; it’s a twisted tale of sin catching up with the sinner. 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

Dust and Shadow

The year is 1887, and Mr. Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous detective, is hot on the trail of a notorious killer who has taken the bloody epithet Jack the Ripper. Mr. Holmes is determined to run down this fiend and take him to justice, but when the great detective is laid low from a dreadful injury, he must entrust this case to the hands of his faithful friend Dr. John Watson and their new associate Miss Mary Ann Monk. To make matters worse, the press begins an investigation of their own, with Sherlock Holmes as the main suspect and the object of their suspicions. Beset on every side with distrust, scorn, and outright malice; the three friends must hasten to stop the killer known as “the Knife” before he strikes again, at all costs, for the good of all London.
I recommend Dust and Shadow, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2009 by Simon & Schuster, for ages 17+. This book falls under the mystery and thriller genres, and is an engaging and suspenseful read, true to the voice of the original Holmes stories. There is some mild language and mature elements to watch out for, as well as gruesome details that could disturb younger readers. All in all, a well-written story with a thrilling plot, Victorian drama, and a dash of menace. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Whole Art of Detection

My friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes…*

The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2017 by Grove Atlantic, is a marvelous addition to the Sherlock Holmes cannon. Consisting of fifteen short stories, including two selections from Mr. Holmes’ diary, a garden tea gone murderous, and a strange case of unsolved madness-these tales are sure to delight any Sherlockian. This book would fall under the historical fiction, crime, mystery, and adventure genres.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 13+. Written true to the original stories, The Whole Art of Detection is a remarkable read with only some violence and one or two uses of mature language to watch out for. A well-written book with engaging action and faithful renderings of the famous detective and his faithful counterpart. 4 out of 5 stars.

…has returned to Baker Street. *

*All excerpts taken from The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, written by Lyndsay Faye and published in 2017 by Grove Atlantic.

Mycroft and Sherlock

It’s London, England in the year 1872, and Mycroft Holmes is a rising young member of the British War Office. With wealth, friends, and a massive intellect, Mycroft has what appears to be an almost-perfect life with a promising future ahead. But with burdened with poor health, his unpopular prediction of British financial problems, past heartbreak, and an extraordinarily aggravating younger brother; not everything is a perfect as it seems with Mycroft’s personal life. And when his brother, Sherlock Holmes, gets fixated on the recent murders that have been plaguing London, Mycroft discovers that there may be more to these gruesome deaths than meets the eye. Featuring intrigues, rain-swept docks, smugglers, hidden romance, back-alley fights, friendships, secrets; and set against the enticing backdrop of Victorian England, this book is a must-read for any Holmesian.

Mycroft and Sherlock, written by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse and published in 2018 by Titan Books, is a book I’d highly recommend for ages 15+. There is one or two instances of mature language as well as some mature, gruesome details regarding the murders and some occasional violence. All in all, an excellent mystery\adventure story featuring the roots of the famous detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with action, intrigue, and banter worthy of any original Holmes story. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen. *

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, written by Ransom Riggs and published by Quirk Books in 2011, is a dark tale of strange photographs, evil monsters, and peculiar children. This New York Times bestselling novel would fall under the dark fantasy genre.

The first of these came as a terrible shock and, like anything that changes you forever, split my life into halves: Before and After. *

After a terrible incident occurs in Jacob Portman’s life, he and his father journey to a distant island off the coast of Britain, hoping to set some old photographs and lies straight. What he discovers there is definitely not what he was expecting…

“I thought I could protect you,” he said. “I should’ve told you a long time ago…” *

I would recommend this book for ages 17+. It is a remarkable book with a spine-chilling story, memorable characters, and moving scenes-however, there is some mature content and language to watch out for, as well as some teen romance, violence, and gory details. All in all, 3.5 out of 5 stars.

 

*All excerpts taken from Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, written by Ransom Riggs and published in 2011 by Quirk Book.

The Ghost of Gold Creek

“My name is Misty Stevens.” *

After Misty’s mother takes one wrong step; her life changes forever. Her mother is gone, her father is impossible to understand, her best friend Lou is headed down a path that Misty can’t follow, and to top it all off, a mysterious wild horse is causing havoc among the neighboring ranches and farms.
Buried artifacts, ghost stories, emotions, and feelings for a particular boy leave Misty confused and worried for her sanity…and maybe even for her life.

All it takes is one wrong step. *

The Ghost of Gold Creek, written by Lisa Michelle Hess and published in 2019 by GlasIncPress, is a heartwarming story of love, loss, and coming of age. This book falls under the contemporary mystery romance genre.

I would recommend this book for ages 16+. There is romance, intrigue, and some thematic elements to watch out for. A well-composed story with memorable characters and compelling plot twists. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

…there is no going back, only forward. *

*All excerpts taken from The Ghost of Gold Creek, written by Lisa Michelle Hess and published in 2019 by GlasIncPress.

Romanov

My blood is my crime. *

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov is the youngest daughter of the last Tsar of Russia. Her and her family are being kept in captivity, waiting for their sentence to be passed.

If you look at it, it’s still red. If you touch it, it’s still wet. But if you listen to it, it speaks a single name in a pulsing chant.
Romanov *

Nastya is given a task by her father before they are separated-smuggle an ancient spell past the Bolshevik guards. This spell may be her family’s salvation.

Romanov *

In addition to the dangerous task of keeping a spell hidden from her captors, Nastya has the greater challenge of guarding her feelings, as a handsome young Bolshevik soldier emerges on the scene.

Romanov
For that name alone, bound to my blood like a Bolshevik is bound to the Russian Revolution, I am destined to die. *

The stakes are high. Nastya is on one side of a firing squad, the soldier Zash is on the other side. The spell is itching to be released. And the fate of Russia hangs in the balance.

Because not even royal blood can stop bullets. *

Romanov, written by Nadine Brandes and published in 2019 by Thomas Nelson, is a gripping novel with secret romance, hidden spells, and deadly intrigue. This book falls under the historical fantasy genre, and is very loosely based on the true story of the Romanov family.
I would highly recommend this book for ages 15+. There is violence, as well as some intense intrigue and romance. All in all, an excellent read with memorable characters and ancient magic. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

*All snippets taken from Romanov, written by Nadine Brandes and published 2019 by Thomas Nelson.