Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow

The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow by J. Haight and S. Robinson, illustrated by J. Haight, limited edition (2011).  Review copy provided by authors.

Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow has low expectations when her parents decide to move from Manhattan to Ashpot, Connecticut--all because her mom feels that renovating a nasty old house will boost her design career.  For a budding detective, however, the old Begonia House proves to be a goldmine. Fairday immediately finds herself immersed in the old mysteries of the home.  With her sidekick, best friend, and fellow DMS (Detective Mystery Squad) member, Lizzy, plus new recruit Marcus, Fairday sets out to discover the secrets of the padlocked room on the third floor and what it might have to do with the possible murder of the previous owner and the disappearance of his daughter on her wedding day--twenty years before that! 

Young readers will devour this book, which has all the ingredients insatiable bibliovores seek out:  a creepy old house, mysterious rooms and sinister furniture, ancient secrets, scary portraits with moving eyes, magic, curses, clues, intrepid characters, silly parents, and much more!  The fast pace and action keep the pages flying and there's plenty of thrills along the way.  Highly recommended for those who dare--ages 8 & up.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rae of Hope

Rae of Hope (The Chronicles of Kerrigan) by W.J. May. Smashwords ed. (Mitchell-Morris Publishing, 2011).  Review copy provided by author.

Rae Kerrigan has no idea why she's been accepted into the elite Guilder Boarding School in the English countryside.  For the past nine years, she's been living with her Uncle Argyle in New York--ever since her parents perished in a mysterious fire that she survived, though with emotional scars from the loss.  She immediately finds that though she knows no one there, everyone has heard of her, and they all seem scared of her, too.  She soon learns that Guilder is a school for students who get special tattoos (called tatus), associated with unique powers, on their sixteenth birthdays. The ink appears mysteriously during the night and only one child in a family gets it. Rae's chatty roommate Molly Skye and the super cute senior Devon Wardell help Rae catch up, but there are some mysteries she must unravel on her own: about her parents, their powers, what they did, and, most importantly, why they died.

Rae of Hope is an excellent, fast-paced read with a bit of romance and some mystery as well.  The boarding school setting works well since it's isolated enough that the students can practice their skills with little outside interference. The special powers associated with the tattoos add a lot of interest; students figure out the extent of their powers and how to control them since no one on the outside is supposed to know about the tattoos.  It's especially interesting to follow Rae's transition from knowing nothing about this mysterious world to getting her own ink and figuring out her powers. It's a bit hard to believe, though, that in New York she was virtually friendless, and suddenly she's beautiful and popular in England, but the notoriety of her family and the confidence boost from learning she's special seem plausible enough explanations.  Overall, Rae of Hope is a unique and enticing paranormal read, recommended for ages 13 & up.  Mild sexual situations, alcohol.