Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason-5 stars

Gleason, Colleen, The Clockwork Scarab. 8:25 hrs. (unbar. ) Audible, 2013.

When Mina Holmes and Evaline Stoker get called to the British Museum at midnight, they never could’ve imagined the mystery they would be asked to solve. With the help of Irene Adler, the ones person ever to outsmart Mina’s uncle, the two have been called to solve a case for Princess Alixandra, sister-in-law of Queen Victoria. Young girls across London are showing up dead, reportedly from suicides, but have really been murdered. All the murders can be linked to a secret society known as the Society of Sekhmet. Whoever is in charge of the society is sacrificing young women to bring back the goddess Sekhmet to life for unknown reasons. His/her only barrier is finding four objects that are supposedly linked to the legendary goddess. Things appear hopeless until Dylan Ekhart, a time traveler from 2016, arrives with answers, or at least clues, to where the objects may be hiding. Time is running out, however, and the mysterious head of the society is elusive to say the least. Can Mina, Dylan, and Evaline figure out who the murderer is before they, too, are his/her victims?

This engaging historical mystery is well-written and easily draws the reader into the imaginary world of Mina an Evaline. The characters were likable and easy to relate to. Their well-rounded personalities are complemented and brought to life by the unique narrative style of Jayne Entwistle. Her fun accent is befitting of the London setting and she easily navigates the many plot twists and turns smoothly. 

5 stars. MS, HS.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tales From a Not-So-Happily-Ever-After by Rachel Renee Russell-4 stars

Russell, Rachel Renee, Tales From a Not-So-Happily-Ever-After.  3 CDS. 3:04 hrs. (unbar.). Simon and Schuster Audio, 2014. $14.99 Audible download.

Nikki is having a rough day to say the least. First, her sister, Brianna’s PBJP(Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Pickle) sandwich winds up on her shirt without her noticing. Next, her crush, Brandon’s text about an opening for journalism camp comes too late. Then, her English teacher assigns the class to write their own version of a fairy tale. Fun, if Nikki could think of something to write about. If her day wasn’t bad enough, in gym class, Mackenzie purposely hits Nikki really hard with a dodgeball and she not only hits the ground, but winds up at Fairytale Land High School with no idea how to get home. After hitting the Wicked Witch, Mackenzie, as she fell from the sky, Nikki’s arch nemesis turned magical, has it out for her and wants her dead.  Sent on a whirlwind fairytale adventure by her not-so-great with magic fairytale godmother, Brianna, to find the Wizard of Odd in hopes of getting back home, Nikki winds up taking on more than she can chew. With wolves who want to eat characters that look like her friends, bored royals, and a really crazy Queen of Hearts after her head, will Nikki ever get back home? Or, will Mackenzie manage to get her killed before she can?

This is by far the best Dork Diaries yet. The characters in their new fairytale forms are even more likable and engaging than in the other books. The character dynamic is strong and quickly develops more intensely throughout. The plot is well-developed and easily draws the reader into Nikki’s world. The narrator, Jenni Barber’s voice can be a tad annoying at first, but, once the listener gets used to her, she captures the personality and attitude of the characters well. Her unique narrative style complements the story, is befitting of the pace of the story, and flawlessly switches between scene and world changes. Fans of the Dork Diaries and of fairytale adventures will not be disappointed. 

4 stars, Grades 4 to 8.