Tag Archives: Criminals

You’ll Be the Death of Me – Karen M. McManus

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Penguin Australia

November 2021

ISBN: 9780241473665
Imprint: Penguin
RRP: $17.99

Really, this author and her books need no promo via my humble opinion, although I am more than happy to provide it. In my library and among my reading circle, these are just unstoppable – particularly so since the series exploded onto the small screens. The teen thriller market is just huge right now and looks set to continue blazing across the best-seller lists for some time.


This is one of McManus’ stand-alone novels and centres on three young people who take a day off school on a complete whim, all of them for very different reasons. Ivy, Mateo and Cal were friends in middle school following another spontaneous ‘walkabout’ day but have somewhat drifted apart now they are in senior school. For all three their memory of The Greatest Day Ever, shared in innocent good fun, lingers and with all the various pressures on each, makes the day off idea all the more appealing.

But when they arrive in Boston and start wandering, and arrive at an art studio used by Cal’s mysterious friend, they are confronted with what appears to a murder scene. As if that’s not confronting enough, the victim is a fellow senior, known to them all. Brian “Boney” Mahoney is pretty much a jerk but he’s also a jerk who was just voted in as Senior Class President, over Ivy – even though he only ran as a joke. That does appear to put Ivy in the frame as a potential suspect, especially when the news breaks. But her two comrades also have secrets which impact on the situation. Cal is ‘involved’ with one of their teachers and Mateo’s cousin/sister has got herself tangled up in some kind of criminal activity.

It really is another convoluted and gripping narrative with suspicion falling in one direction after another and it took this reader quite some time to even start to sort out the who’s who in this nefarious plot. Your teens are going to love it and I know it’s going to be in high demand/rotation when we start back at school.

Highly recommended for your readers from around 14 years upwards – some strong language and drug references but nothing too shocking.

Full Speed: Kensy and Max #6 – Jacqueline Harvey

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Penguin Australia

September 2020

  • ISBN: 9781760890025
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • RRP: $16.99

Is it any wonder that Jacqueline Harvey’s fans are legion? Her consummate skill in smashing out superlative stories for young ‘uns just continues to enthrall and capture their reading hearts.

Now the sixth instalment in the hugely successful Kensy and Max series takes the thrills even further as the young twin spies undertake a covert mission in the Alps accompanied by their parents and close companions, Fitz and Song.

The nasty Van Leer couple are some of the most unlikeable villains readers will encounter, only outweighed by the pack of really dastardly gun-smugglers who have attached themselves to the Van Leer’s lucrative data-theft enterprise. It’s up to the Spencers to forestall both sets of malefactors and in the picturesque snowy setting of Zermatt this is exactly what they do. There is plenty of action to excite with skillful skiing, stealthy stalking and wild chases on snow-mobiles as the plot unravels, revealing far more than the Pharos family anticipated.

Most unexpectedly the revelations about Soren, the Van Leer’s bullied and repressed son, give rise to a startling development which,completely shock all involved.

Once again Kensy and Max demonstrate their latent talents as spies-in-the-making, often taking the initiative in the whole mission and ably thwarting even the most heinous of criminals.

Jacqueline Harvey’s narratives not only celebrate resourcefulness, quick-thinking and capability but also trust, loyalty and family relationships. Combined with the thrills and spills that accompany the spy business – even for those who are still learning the ropes – this is an unbeatable series with scads of appeal for both boys and girls from around 8 years upwards.

Though they do not need any recommendation from me, as they simply fly off the shelves as soon as they are spotted, they would be top of my list for your middle school kiddos.

Teaching notes available for this series