Tag Archives: kidnapping

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando


theleavingcoverThe Leaving by Tara Altebrando, paperback novel, 421 pages, published by Bloomsbury in 2016.

Eleven years ago six kindergartners disappeared without a trace. Now five of them are back with no memory of where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing since they left. They have arrived with a few clues, but is it enough to discover their past? And what happened to Max, the child that didn’t make it back?

The cover of this book is awesome. I knew the first time I saw it that I wanted to read it. I do have a tendency to pick up books based entirely on their covers, and this one is perfect. Luckily the story was also pretty awesome, though I thought that the ending seemed a little rushed.

The Leaving was a mystery with elements of science fiction. It was difficult to put down once I started, and I finished it quite rapidly. It was told from the perspectives of three characters, Scarlett and Lucas, two of the taken, and Avery, the little sister of Max. I liked this split in the narrative, as I got to see how things were developing from both sides of the equation; from those who have no recollection and must re-adjust to families and a life from before, and from one that was left behind and had to deal with the fall-out of The Leaving.

Tidbits of information and clues were doled out slowly, building suspense and intrigue. I did manage to work out some of the answers prior to them being supplied, but not everything. The explanation of why and who felt too brief after such a long time developing. However, The Leaving is still a very good book that I recommend to lovers of mystery and crime.

Interesting characters added to the satisfaction of reading The Leaving. Despite not remembering anything about themselves, I still got to know Lucas and Scarlett quite well, as they got to know themselves. I’m not sure I really liked them though, same with Avery. I actually found her to be a bit whiny and self-centred, she just kept thinking about those flip-flops! But perhaps if I had been just holding things together for my family for the past eleven years, when everything had been about the missing Max, perhaps I would want to focus on myself for a while too. I felt sorry for her. The weight on Avery’s shoulders was greater than it should have been at that age, but that doesn’t explain her lack of empathy for her friend Emma and boyfriend Sam. I also couldn’t understand Adam’s lack of enthusiasm in discovering his past.

The Leaving is suitable for middle and upper high school students and beyond. I am now interested in seeing what else Altebrando has to offer!





Phoebe Nash: Girl Warrior by Justin D’Ath


IMG_4722Phoebe Nash: Girl Warrior by Justin D’Ath, paperback novel, 117 pages, published by Laguna Bay Publishing in 2010.

Cycling along an African road on holiday with her Dad should have been fun, but for Phoebe Nash it is just the start of an adventure both frightening and exhilarating. Phoebe flags down a passing vehicle when her dad becomes ill on their ride, but minutes later, they are all face-down in the dust with guns pointed at them. The African man that was trying to help Phoebe passes her a message and his mobile phone before he is hauled away by the men with guns. Now she must get help for her father, and try to pass on the message to the right person, Sospeter. He turns out to be a rather cute fifteen year old with a fast motorbike and a determination to rescue his father from the kidnappers, with Phoebe along for the ride.

A political kidnapping, an illicit motorbike ride, wild and dangerous animals, a daring rescue, and a cute boy. The perfect combination for an exciting and fast-paced African adventure! I enjoyed the story, which was interesting and exciting, without being too complicated. There was excellent description of the wild-life and scenery, allowing me to follow along with Phoebe and Sospeter on their rescue mission. I’ve always loved stories set in Africa, though most of the ones I read are full of complex politics or animal conservation issues, with death a common occurrence. Phoebe Nash: Girl Warrior was a clean story great for children, without death or swearing, and the reasons behind the kidnapping were kept simple.

I liked both Phoebe and Sospeter, both have courage and ingenuity, despite their young age. Phoebe has spunk; most thirteen year old girls wouldn’t have embarked upon such an incredible adventure with a boy they’d just met, in a country they don’t know! She is a good character to have at the heart of the story, and Sospeter complements her. He seems fearless and a bit stubborn, but knows when to ask for help. They make a great team.

Phoebe Nash: Girl Warrior was an entertaining read which I finished in one sitting. It is most suitable for middle primary to lower high school children. With a young female heroine, this story may appeal to girls more than other adventure stories, as they can relate to Phoebe. There is also a second book in this series that I am yet to read, Phoebe Nash: Detective.