THE RING OF FIVE

From the Ring of Five series , Vol. 1

Abducted on his way to a new school and brought to a world under our Earth, Danny Caulfield joins the student body at the Wilson School for Spies and discovers he is the long sought “Fifth” on a team of baddies determined to take over the Upper World. The mood of this story is dark (treachery and betrayal abound), and the central character, Danny, is not totally admirable or always likable. Danny’s fellow students work as supporting characters but are not terribly well developed, and the adults are pure stereotype. Suspension of disbelief comes easily, though, and the plot, which incorporates fantasy, mystery and espionage, careens from breathtaking incident to hair-raising escape to an exhilarating and amusing climax. Clever twists on folk- and religious lore—vixens, dwarfs, Seraphim and ravens with knowledge and power are among the population—add amusing touches to the story and contribute to the worldbuilding. Give this to fans of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series and Catherine Jinks’s Evil Genius books. (Fantasy. 11-15) 

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-73731-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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THE CASE OF THE BIZARRE BOUQUETS

In this third Enola Holmes mystery, the younger, teenage sister of Sherlock Holmes is determined to find the missing Dr. Watson on her own by deciphering the clues in the bizarre bouquets sent to his wife. As in the previous two titles, Enola uses disguises, codes, false names and her familiarity with London’s seamy side to solve the case. Ciphers, coded newspaper messages, the meaning of flowers, sophisticated language and frequent references to Enola’s mother (who disappeared in the first book) will intrigue fans of the first two, though making it less independent as a stand-alone. Nevertheless, Enola is clever, intelligent, indomitable and plucky, a young feminist “in disguise” in Victorian London, always on the lookout for her two famous older brothers. On the cover, Enola looks a bit like a contemporary teen, though a horse-drawn carriage in the background suggests the historical setting. With precise characterization, fast pacing and keen observation, readers will be eager to learn what Enola will encounter next. (Historical fiction. 11-15)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-399-24518-3

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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