It’s Monday! What are you reading? Mysteries

imgresI have been absent from writing for a few weeks. It does not mean that I have not been reading. It just means I was on the road with little time to write.

I did have time to read the second book from Sheila Turnage. She wrote Three Times Lucky which I fell in love with so was excited to send my time on the road reading The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Yes, our favorite character Mo (real name Moses) and her partner Dale are still working as The Desperado Detective Agency.

Turnage brings back all our favorite characters and adds one new fellow, Harm Crenshaw, to the mix. This is a great adventure of an old haunted inn, community secrets, and a class history project.  The events keep us guessing as Mo and friends struggle to find ways to interview the towns elderly people, a ghost is found to be part of the purchase of an inn, and the old folks in town are keeping secrets.

The humor in this book moves us quickly through the story and would be a wonderful addition to your class mystery section. It also would be fun as a class read aloud if you are having your class work on a history project or a family history report.

Mo, Dale and friends must complete a history project related to their town. These reports will connect to the towns 250th anniversary and it is where they begin to learn about their families, friends and what really happened at the inn. Perfect to entice students to think about their own families and histories.

Check out Shelia’s web site to learn more about her writing:,_Author.html

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler also fit into my mystery reading this last week. This exciting book was just released on April 15th.  This is the story of a Reader – not a reader like you and I read put of those who can read themselves into and out of books. They are the special readers who know how to use the magic of books.9780803739758_Forb1A0493D7

This is where we meet Alice who is sent off to live with her Uncle after her father is lost in a mysterious ship wreck. Alice is a quiet, studious girl who follows the rules at all times.  Well, almost all times.  Her curiosity gets the best of her when a talking cat takes her into the forbidden library. It is here she finds a arrogant boy, books that seep their contents and much, much more.

I have to admit that I almost quit reading this book. I am not sure if I had just had my fill of fantasy but I wasn’t in love with the characters.  The forbidden library was wonderful but I had to push myself to stay with Alice and the cast of characters. I did finally get hooked and finished it only to have an ending that left me hanging.

At this time I am not seeing a report of book two in the works but it is a story that needs an ending. I would love to hear what others think about this book. I believe this is his first book for middle grade readers.

urlI also worked on reading Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson. ( working on reading this – because I am not quite done)  This is a non fiction thriller. Swanson takes us into the real and gruesome details of Abraham Lincoln’s killing. He makes this time period and event come alive.

Through the use of diaries, newspaper clipping, rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators we learn what really happened the night and days following the shooting of Lincoln. We can all talk about the place and time that Lincoln was shot but the details that lead up to this event and what happened after are fascinating.

If you have students who think history is boring – introduce them to Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. There is a good video of Swanson talking about his writing process and his interest in making history come alive for students. Check out this You Tube video from Scholastic.

James L. Swanson interview

Books waiting to be read are:


  • The Cracks in the Kingdom 
  • Zane and the Hurricane 
  • Rose Under Fire 

Adult Reading

  •  Stillwater by Nicole Helget

Happy Reading! Let me know if you are reading The Hidden Library – I would love to know what you or your students think!

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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1 Response to It’s Monday! What are you reading? Mysteries

  1. Myra GB says:

    I absolutely love the name of your favorite character in The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. You have a wonderful spread of titles here. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer also sounds riveting, thanks for sharing such detailed reviews.

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