Secret Codes: “Sign of a Great YA Mystery”

This review is from: Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills

There are some things that puzzle even the smartest detective. Will Skylar be able to figure out why her cousin is such a bully or what’s really happening late at night on Shadow Hills before the summer ends?

Skylar’s insatiable curiosity made me like her immediately. She’s an intelligent and resourceful girl who is clearly accustomed to thinking on her feet. What really endeared me to this character, though, were her faults. They’re things that a lot of us struggle with, and they show up so early on in her summer vacation that they feel like natural extensions of her personality. The fact that she’s willing to do this makes me think she’s a great role model. It takes a lot of courage to own up to this stuff, after all.

There were times when I questioned Skylar’s choice of friends. She’s a kind person, but she seems to be attracted to people who don’t necessarily share that character trait. It would have been helpful to know why she befriends people who have such a different outlook on life given that Skylar doesn’t seem to have a mean bone in her body. I’m hoping that this part of her life will be more fully explored in the sequel.

As a lifelong fan of codes, I was pleased to see so many different types of them represented in this story. There’s something fascinating about writing a message that most other people won’t be able to understand. At a few different points I actually paused and played around with the various codes that Skylar and her friends used to keep their communication with each other hidden. To me this is a sign of a great young adult mystery!

Figuring out the best age recommendation for this book was tricky. The plot is clearly intended for middle grade readers. Skylar seemed to written to appeal to an audience that is a few years younger than her. Chronologically she’s a teenager, but hasn’t yet developed an interest in the kind of stuff that typically appeal to adolescents.

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills was a strong introduction to a fun, new series. I’m looking forward to catching up with Skylar on her next adventure, and I’d heartily recommend doing the same to anyone who is a fan of mysteries or young adult novels.

5 Magic Stars!

5.0 out of 5 stars
juliesbookreview.blogspot.com, August 19, 2014
By
Theresa

This review is from: Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills (Kindle Edition)

Skylar Robbins wants nothing more in life than to be a Private Investigator like her late grandpa. Skylar learns she will be spending the summer in Malibu with her Aunt Caroline, Uncle Jim and bully cousin Gwendolyn. She will also be attending a new school for the summer. Armed with PI kit and diary she sets out to have the best summer she can while her parents are in Europe.

There are few rules that need to followed: she is never to enter the attic, her great Evelyn’s things are stored there, she is also not to go into “shadow hills” that is located behind the house. Shadow Hills is a nickname for the Rocky Mountain Range behind Gwen’s house.

Skylar soon discovers a secret garden and a good friend from school. Kat opens a new world for Skylar. A world unlike Skylar has ever known. The adventure Skylar and Kat go on for the summer will have Skylar facing fears she never knew she had. She will find courage along the way that will save her and Malibu.

This book is for the younger readers but I LOVED IT! ! I hated to put it down! It’s well written and keeps you on the edge of your seat 🙂 It’s full of magic and mystery! I can see Skylar Robbins being a favorite with many little girls.

5 magic stars
Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow HIlls

Coolly Believable Protagonist and Wise Lessons in an Exciting Adventure Mystery

4 Stars
 This review is from: Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills (Kindle Edition)
     Thirteen-year-old Skylar’s been collecting items for her detective kit, and plans to be just like her grandfather. What she didn’t plan on was staying at her annoying cousin’s mansion in Shadow Hills for eight weeks while her parents tour Europe. The Hills and the attic are off limits, and that’s just got to mean adventure, or even “escape from Malibu!” But by the end of this tale, Skylar won’t be the only person needing to get away.
     Skylar has a nice convincing voice as the first-person narrator of this tween mystery. Teens in her summer art class include the hearing-impaired boy with a happy, outgoing attitude, the genius artist, the skateboarder, the wannabe Wiccan and more, and they make a fine group. But outside school, Sky is soon puzzling over a Ouija board with her new best friend. She practices the arts of magical distraction on the grass of a secret garden, but who can she trust, and will she find a way to be true to herself?
     A pleasing blend of careful detective work, fanciful ritual, nature’s beauty, and tense excitement makes this a cool tween adventure as Skyler grows up, conquers her fears, solves a mystery, and learns wise lessons in friendship and how to live with bullies. Shadow Hills keep their mystery hidden right to the end, but this summer is one to remember, as is the book… and there’s even the chance to develop your own detective kit at the end. Don’t let those magic tricksters fool you!
     Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy of this novel and I offer my honest review.

THE SECRET OF THE BURIED KEY

In Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills, Skylar spends the summer in Malibu at her bullying cousin’s estate. She meets an intriguing classmate named Kat who claims to be a witch. Practical Skylar didn’t believe in magic–until the spells they perform in an abandoned garden actually begin to work.

One day inside the garden walls, they unearth an ancient key:

ancient keyWhat could it unlock? What’s your guess? If you have not read the book, leave a reply with your idea.

If you have read the book, leave a reply using Skylar’s secret code and tell me what the key unlocked. If you are a Skylar Robbins Secret Agent, please reply using your code name.

The first 3 correct answers win a prize!

Skylar’s Secret Code: A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, E=5, F=6, G=7, H=8, I=9, J=10, K=11, L=12, M=13, N=14, O=15, P=16, Q=17, R=18, S=19, T=20, U=21, V=22, W=23, X=24, Y=25, Z=26

SHADOW HILLS COVER