Welcome back to another month here at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers...the place where we always try to rock your world, bookishly that is. ^_^
Today, we're heading to the land of Children's Fiction with the first two books in a planned series that has a MUCH broader appeal. How so? Well, every book deals in CODES just as much as mystery, characters, twists and surprise endings. Sound good? Trust me, it is and the fact that you get to play right along with story makes you THAT much more invested as a reader at any age. Ready to brush up on your finger spelling and finally crack that Caesar's Cipher? Put your thinking caps on because here comes author Penny Warner's fun-tabulous series...
The Code Busters:
Format: Trade Paper, 240 pages
Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. may be really different, but they all share one thing in common: they love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much, they have their own private club, with a super-secret hideout and passwords that change every single day.
When Cody and Quinn notice what could be a code on the window of a nearby house, the one owned by their strange neighbor, the guy they call Skeleton Man, the club gets to work. And it is a cry for help!
Now the Code Busters are on the case—and nothing will stop them from solving the mystery and finding the secret treasure that seems to be the cause of it all!
This was a GREAT introduction to the crew. From page one we begin to develop a feel for the characters, their likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. You'll know them from the tips of their spiked hair (Quinn) to the fab wardrobe they confidently wear (M.E.) before this story is out and that's not even the HALF of the story you embark on! The gang is pulled into a mystery of great importance to both the gentleman it involves and the safty of the neighborhood. Good thing they are good at what they do because they are gonna need their combined strengths to riddle this one out.
For fans of riddles and codes, I have news for you. Though the answers are at book's end, they are NOT on the actual page they occur, inviting you instead to solve the clues along with the crew. They even give you the code keys in that end section to help you on your way and encourage further exploration with your new found skills. I found it rather fun determining the chapter titles alone seeing as they are all spelled out in sign language. Yep. Put your finger spelling skills to the test or brush up on a usual skill as you unlock page after page of mystery and fun. Now, on to book 2....
The Code Busters 2:
Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
When Cody and her friends get a mysterious e-mail hinting at a treasure on Alcatraz Island, they can't wait to get started on their clue hunt. Luckily, a class trip to the prison is the perfect cover to start their search.
During the tour, the club members learn that a jewel thief kept at Alcatraz may have hidden his biggest haul on the island and left a series of coded messages to find it. And solving puzzles is what the Code Busters do best!
This story picks up where the last one ends, with a mysterious challenge issued to visit a haunted lighthouse. This time however, the adventures doesn't just take place in their own neighborhood but rather it stretches its reach to Alcatraz, you know the infamous prison of old, which wouldn't you know it, the kids just so happen to be visiting on an upcoming field trip! Hmm...sounds fishy and yet the mystery grows oh-so-much-bigger than originally intended. How so? Well, let's just say that these kids nor the mysterious stranger leaving them messages are not the only ones that know how to use codes...but some have much more nefarious reasons for their application. *gulp* No worries, it's still totally kiddo friendly but there is definitely a more palpable risk factor in this story.
Overall, though short reads for my age range, enticing nonetheless. The mysteries kept my interest, the code busting skills I learned and utilized were WAY more fun than I bargained for, and I totally feel inducted into their little club. I can imagine Middle Grade readers and beyond claiming this series as their own and I'd definitely mark it as one for the "male readers" list that can sorely use some more allies. Hey, girls and boys alike LOVE a good mystery and code busting is for all ages...join the fun, if you dare. ^_^
About the Author
Penny Warner’s middle-grade mystery, The Mystery of the Haunted Caves, won an Agatha Award and an Anthony Award in 2002 for Best Juvenile Mystery.(...and most recently, book 2 of the Code Busters series won in 2012 for best children's/young adult!) Her books have received excellent reviews and have been printed in fourteen countries throughout the world.
Warner lives in Danville, California. Visit her online at www.pennywarner.com.
Review copies received courtesy of Casey at Media Masters Publicity. (THANKS!) For more information on this series as well as their upcoming promotions, be sure to visit their official site. Both titles are available now via Egmont USA so be on the look out for them on a bookstore shelf near you. Already a fan of the series or about to become one? Make a spot on your wish list because book 3, Mystery of the Pirate's Treasure is set for release November 2013! Can't wait to see what the gang is up to next. In the mean time, check out the official website where you can read up on the characters and hone your code busting skills.
Until next time...happy reading!