A rousing page-turner with one fault: It ends. (Mystery. 10-14)

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    Best Books Of 2014

KNIGHTLEY AND SON

From the Knightley & Son series , Vol. 1

Heaps of mystery, dry humor and tweed abound in this exemplar of crime fiction à la Doyle. 

Since 13-year-old Darkus Knightley’s parents split, he sees his father, Alan—a detective of obsessive professional dedication—once a week. Darkus’ sponge of a brain has absorbed the details of every former case of his father’s, which fuel conversation during their visits. The conversations tend to be one-sided, though, as Alan has been comatose for four years. One evening, Alan miraculously wakes from his coma, ready to investigate a series of bizarre crimes. Alan is convinced that a powerful organization called the Combination is behind these and subsequent sprees. His records destroyed, Alan’s only chance to prove his case is to tap the brain of his son. And Darkus’ only chance to heal the relationship with his father (whose paternal nurturing was absent long before his hospitalization) is to solve a mammoth mystery. Even if Gavin didn’t disclaim his affinity for Sherlock Holmes, it would be abundantly evident; Darkus’ skill at deduction, perpetual observation and sang-froid are spot-on Holmes-ian. Don’t expect a puttering Watson, though. Darkus’ sidekick and stepsister, Tilly, is wrought with sass, intelligence and a never-ending supply of hair dye. Heroes, villains and settings are all fully realized through proficient description, and contemporary technology gives way to sheer brainpower.

A rousing page-turner with one fault: It ends. (Mystery. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61963-153-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page.

WILLA OF DARK HOLLOW

From the Willa of the Wood series , Vol. 2

A young Faeran girl puts everything on the line to save her home and the family she loves.

Emerging from the charred ruins of the Faeran forest lair, 13-year-old green-skinned, brown-haired Willa has formed a new family with humans who care about the Great Smoky Mountain as much as she does. Unfortunately, the Sutton Lumber Company has plans to clear the forest for railroad tracks. Her White adoptive father, Nathaniel, has become a leading voice against the destruction, making him a target. After he is arrested on suspicion of murdering loggers, Willa asks for help from her Faeran clan, but they blame her for the death of their leader and subsequent loss of their old home. Even the forest itself has grown hostile as strange, deathly cold creatures attack. Adelaide, a new blond, blue-eyed friend, and Hialeah, Nathaniel’s White and Cherokee daughter, join Willa in protecting the forest, clearing Nathaniel’s name, saving the Faeran, and unraveling the mystery of the malicious beasts. This duology closer is a captivating, stirring tale of family, friendship, the environment, and our place in the world. At every turn, Willa is faced with higher stakes and decisions that are even harder to make; the consequences of each choice weigh on her heart. The gorgeous prose and imagery of the mountains will inspire in readers a deep admiration for nature and support for Willa’s fight.

A fantastic, heartbreaking crescendo that echoes beyond the final page. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-00760-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when...

ASHES TO ASHEVILLE

Two sisters make an unauthorized expedition to their former hometown and in the process bring together the two parts of their divided family.

Dooley packs plenty of emotion into this eventful road trip, which takes place over the course of less than 24 hours. Twelve-year-old Ophelia, nicknamed Fella, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany, are the daughters of a lesbian couple, Shannon and Lacy, who could not legally marry. The two white girls squabble and share memories as they travel from West Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, where Zany is determined to scatter Mama Lacy’s ashes in accordance with her wishes. The year is 2004, before the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the girls have been separated by hostile, antediluvian custodial laws. Fella’s present-tense narration paints pictures not just of the difficulties they face on the trip (a snowstorm, car trouble, and an unlikely thief among them), but also of their lives before Mama Lacy’s illness and of the ways that things have changed since then. Breathless and engaging, Fella’s distinctive voice is convincingly childlike. The conversations she has with her sister, as well as her insights about their relationship, likewise ring true. While the girls face serious issues, amusing details and the caring adults in their lives keep the tone relatively light.

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when Fella’s family figures out how to come together in a new way . (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16504-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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