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Book Review Blog

Title: While The Clock Ticked

Series: The Hardy Boys

Author: Franklin W. Dixon (Pen name)

Release Date: Revised ed. edition (January 1, 1962)

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Purchase: Available through the Canadian Amazon. Or you can keep your eyes out on it in your local secondhand bookstore or used Amazon. It's also available as a kindle format.

Add it on Goodreads

Rating: ★★★★★


A banker who has been receiving threatening notes enlists the help of the Hardy boys. Before long, the young sleuths find themselves entangled in the investigation of a notorious band of thieves.


My Review:

As someone who's always been used to the updated versions of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew (such as the Undercover Brothers and Girl Detective), I've never been into the old school Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, though I've read and enjoyed quite a few of them. But with the cover of this particular Hardy Boys book looking so intriguing and catching, I've always wanted to get my hands on it.

While The Clock Ticked contained action, intense scenes, and humor. Every chapter ended on a cliffhanger, and Chet's huge appetite near the beginning cracked me up. 😆

In this installment of the Hardy Boys series, a banker reluctantly accepts the Hardys' help in investigating the threatening notes that keep appearing in the secret room of his mansion. As usual, loved the Hardys' determination to do the right thing. Despite the room being locked, how do the threatening notes get there? How has someone been able to enter it? Strange! 👀 Also, who hates Mr. Dalrymple enough to threaten him with death?

It's very likely of the Hardy boys to take the time to search around for a secret trap door in the secret room - definitely the Hardys I've always known! Also, I've really enjoyed exploring the Purdy mansion - sure sounded spooky. 👀

Besides investigating Mr. Dalrymple's case, the Hardys also get involved chasing harbor thieves. More than anything, I really admired the Hardys' teamwork with the policemen in bringing the criminals to justice; really love their relationship with them. Also, really loved how the Hardys would risk anything for each other.

While I really loved and enjoyed While The Clock Ticked, I only had a few minor issues with it. Some parts were confusing for me, such as, descriptions of some particular scenes. Sometimes I had to keep reading them over and over to be able to understand what's exactly going on, and sometimes even going back to previous pages.

Finally, the ending - loved how perfect it was! 🥺😌❤❤

Overall, would recommend to Hardy Boys or any mystery fan out there.

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  • Writer's pictureSeema M. Fazil

Title: Black Sheep

Author: Na'ima B. Robert

Release Date: March 25, 2014

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books

Purchase: Since this book is out of print, you can keep your eyes out on it in your local secondhand bookstore, used Amazon, or Better World Books. Or, check if your local public library has it.

Add it on Goodreads

Rating: ★★★★★


Dwayne, 16, meets high-flying, uni-bound Misha, and sparks fly. To Misha it feels like true love, but her mum is adamant that Dwayne is bad news and forbids her to see him. When Misha decides to follow her heart, the web of secrets and lies begins to tighten, for Dwayne is not quite who he says he is. And as he struggles to turn his life around while hiding his darker side from Misha, his ties with Trigger, Jukkie and the rest of his boys draw him deeper and deeper into gang violence, more serious and bloody than any he has ever seen. One night, Dwayne's two lives collide, with devastating consequences.


My Review:

Finally picked this up after it's been sitting unread on my shelf for ages. This was my third book by Na'ima B. Robert. How could I have not read this earlier! It was SUCH a beautiful novel with deep messages that I'm unable to explain! 😭 I've got a lot to say about this book that I don't know where the heck to start! 😅

Na'ima B. Robert's Black Sheep follow a badman named Dwayne and a smart, uni-bound girl named Misha, who fall head over heels for each other. Despite never having been crazy for romance, I do admit that I found their young love cute and sweet. It gave me a little of the Romeo and Juliet vibe, especially with the fact that they grew up in different backgrounds. While Dwayne grew up in the bad side of town, Misha was raised by her strict mother, who expected more from her. I was really intrigued when Misha, despite her mother forbidding her to see Dwayne, follows her heart anyway and sneaks behind her back to see him. I couldn't wait to find out what her mother would do once she found out! 👀

With all the gang stuff involved, I can't help but feel how similar Black Sheep was to S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. And I can't help but say it again: SO SIMILAR to The Outsiders! Jukkie, one of Dwayne's friends, reminded me of Two-Bit for his love of knives, and I saw Trigger, the head of the RDS gang, as the darker version of Dally. Also, the Larkside boys, the RDS' rival gang, were the socs.

I really enjoyed watching Dwayne grow throughout the novel - loved how real and likeable he was! In the beginning, I didn't care for him, but the next thing I knew, I found myself rooting for him as he struggles to do the right thing and turn his life around.

I was especially really impressed with how Na'ima managed to spread the message of Islam without being preachy, giving da'wah for her readers indirectly. I also loved how she raised awareness of how the media portray Muslims. I saw that she also seemed to raise awareness of how society views gangsters; for instance, how Dwayne was accused of cheating on a test when, in truth, he actually really did pass it, and how Misha's mom judged him right away only based on his looks! I felt sorry and mad for him. I also felt bad about how his mom gave up on him. Na'ima shows us that there is hope for gangsters too, they just need someone to guide them. I was close to tearing up when ***Spoiler*** Dwayne took his shahadah. ***Spoiler***

It may not have been much, but I loved the little bit of bromance that was added, such as, Dwayne referring to Tony as 'the big brother I never had', and Tony loving and caring for Dwayne like his own little brother. I would have loved to see more. 🥺

Finally, the ending was emotional.🥺 One of the deep messages that Black Sheep gives us is that there is a reason why God - Allah - sends some people down our path. I loved how REALISTIC it was!

While I loved everything about this book, there were only a few very minor things that annoyed me, such as, the use of slang that took me a bit of time to get used to and the description, "kissed his teeth", that Na'ima kept using many times. Also, is it just me or were there things that seemed untied? For instance, ***Spoiler***Misha never found out that it was Dwayne's little brother that robbed her grandmother - I would have loved to see her reaction, honestly.***Spoiler***

Overall, again, this was a very beautiful novel, and would recommend for everyone.

If you loved The Outsiders, please pick this one up!

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Updated: Mar 8

Title: The Test Case

Series: The Hardy Boys

Author: Franklin W. Dixon

Release Date: January 1, 2002

Publisher: Aladdin

Purchase: This book may be out of print, but fortunately, it is available as a Kindle format on Amazon, or you can keep your eyes out on it in your local secondhand bookstore, used Amazon, or Better World Books. Or, check if your local public library has it.

Add it on Goodreads

Rating: ★★★★☆


A new statewide test has all the students at Bayport High on edge. Then Joe and his friend Tony find one of the tests in Tony’s bookbag. Joe knows Tony didn’t steal it, but the assistant principal isn’t so understanding: He suspends them both!
Joe talks to the truck driver who delivered the tests, as well as the owner of a tutoring service who promises amazing improvements in test scores. Frank checks out who could have put the test in Tony’s bag—a bag just like the one belonging to a star of the hockey team. Joe and Tony are still in the penalty box, but the Hardys are determined to ace this case!


My Review:

I'm so glad I finally picked up The Test Case on my Kindle after it's been on my TBR for so long.

This installment of the Hardy Boys series starts off with a fun ice-skating party in Bayport, giving me the nice winter vibes, before things get intense when Joe and his friend, Tony find one of the tests for the State Achievement Battery (SAB), a statewide test that is a must for all students at Bayport High to take, in Tony's backpack! Neither Joe nor Tony took the test. So how is it in Tony's backpack? Unfortunately, the assistant principal wasn't so understanding as he suspends them both!

As how I expected him to be, loved how Frank wasn't dumb to believe that Joe and Tony cheated - I knew he'd believe that his brother was innocent and would do everything to clear his name. As usual, like in any Hardy Boys book, loved the amazing brother teamwork. In this particular installment though, I was especially impressed with the fact that, despite the Hardys being separated (with Frank at school and Joe being suspended), how they managed to still be able to work together!

The beginning of The Test Case was slow, but as the mystery progressed, it became intriguing with intense scenes as the case of the missing test really sounded fishy. 👀

Who was that mysterious person that students in Bayport High kept getting calls from, selling them the test? Also, it really sounded strange that Tony was in the same place at the same time as the delivery truck and the cartons of test... Yes, I said that right. Their friend was a suspect too! 👀

I couldn't believe just how stupid the principal, Mr. Chambers, was. I hoped that he'd at least be a bit smarter than his assistant and investigate the issue further, but it turned out he was just as stupid, maybe even worse! It was so horrifying how he was making Joe and Tony sign a confession for something they didn't even do, just wanting to sweep the issue under the rug! Confessing to something you didn't do is just not right and unfair! It seemed to me that he cared more about the reputation of the school than who was guilty. Great for Joe speaking up and fighting for his right, with Frank's support, of course.

Finally, while I really enjoyed this Hardy Boys book and found it intriguing, there were a few issues I had with it that made me knock out a star. First, there was a little mess in the writing somewhere in the middle of the book (for e.g. the author seems to have forgotten that it was Iola who introduced that Brendan guy to Frank), but that issue wasn't much compared to the ending. Honestly, I expected the ending to be way better than that. But instead, it felt rushed and kinda left me with unanswered questions. It left me with 'And then...?'

***Spoiler*** I know Carl got a consequence for being rude to the coach, but I can't help but wonder. What about the consequences for icing the Hardys' driveaway, leaving a threatening note in Callie's locker, and throwing a puck at the Hardys' window? And about the hockey coach, Dobeney. Okay, so I got his motive for attempting to frame Brad Austin, but the bigger question was: Why did he choose to betray Bayport's hockey team? Also, why did he make those calls to students selling them the test? We never got an answer to that. Also, did Mr. Chambers finally lift Joe and Tony's suspensions after finally knowing who the real criminal was? We never got an answer to that, either. ***Spoiler***

Overall, other than the issues, I really enjoyed this Hardy Boys book, and would recommend to Hardy Boys fans.

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