Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Secret of White Stone Gate and novel tie-ins

Nobel, Julia. The Secret of White Stone Gate
March 3rd 2020 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Emmy is back at Wellsworth after her harrowing time in The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane. Her author mother wants her to check in with a cousin, Lucy, who ends up being a London social climber who is NOT thrilled that Emmy got in trouble at her school. Now that she is not involved in the Latin Society (and she has wisely secured the medallions in her own safety deposit box in a bank), Emmy gets involved in other school activities with her friends Lola and Jack. When the money from a fundraiser goes missing, Emmy suspects that Brynn is behind it, and when the money is found in Lola's room, she knows that her friend has been framed. Mr. Barlowe suggests that something bigger is going on after Lola gets expelled, and sure enough, Jonas starts threatening Emmy. He wants Emmy's father location, which she doesn't know, and starts to terrorize the people around her. The Order has clearly not been silenced, and Emmy must work to keep them at bay as well as try to get her friend reinstated in the school.
Strengths: I have at least two students who adore what they call "academy" books; books set in schools. There are also a lot of students who want murder mysteries, and this comes close enough. This moved quickly, had children saving the day, and was quite enjoyable.
Weaknesses: Of all things, I didn't really care about the history of the Order. I'll have to ask my students what they think, but the details of British boarding school life and the mystery were enough for me, although it WAS the order threatening people.
What I really think: This isn't a huge circulator, but the combination of details of British boarding schools and some fairly evil characters attempting to murder Emmy's friends makes this one that I am more than happy to purchase.

Riordan, Rick. Camp Jupiter Classified (#4)
Published May 5th 2020 by Disney-Hyperion
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Claudia, a legacy of Mercury, is looking forward to being in the fourth cohort at California's Camp Jupiter. She struggles a little with roommates, is awed by the Via Praetoria, and is ready to uphold the memory of her great-grandfather. There are a lot of unpleasant chores that need to be done, like cleaning out the aqueducts and pooper scooping for the elephants, unicorns, and giant eagles, but even the worst jobs have unexpected surprises, like getting to ride on an eagle! She makes a few friends, like Blaise and Janice, and is worried when she gets several mysterious notes that seem to align with dreams she is having. When odd things start to happen at the camp, the counselors suspect that she has something to do with them, and watch her even more carefully. Could the vagrant centaur, Elon, have anything to do with these occurrences? Who is leaving her  notes? And how will an ancient set of shields figure in the mystery that Claudia must solve?

For readers who are eagerly awaiting the next book in Riordan's Trial of Apollo series, The Tower of Nero (9/29/20), this is a fun trip to the world of those stories. While there is plenty of mystery and action, the pace is slower and the scene limited to the camp Jupiter grounds. While reading Claudia's journal, I  found it was much easier to pretend I was a camper, and was able to revel in the details about cabins, chores, shops around camp, and the mythology behind Claudia's family. There was a helpful glossary of terms and Latin words at the end of the book.

Claudia was trained in Wolf House and has solid engineering skills, although Janice does have to give her some hints when building an arch. It's great to see girls represented in this field, and Riordan's work treats all genders equally, which is good to see.

These short books can be read out of order, since they focus so specifically on one character, and would make a great gift for young readers are smaller occasions, if they are getting the main books for birthdays and major holidays. Really, any occasion is a good one for adding more Riordan books to a collection of die hard fans.

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