EYE Spy by Tessa Buckley
Twins Alex and Donna live in a somewhat unusual household. Their mum died when they were tiny so they live with their father and grandmother. Nan does all the heavy lifting in the household - she cooks, cleans, works, goes to parents evenings at school. Dad spends most of his time in his workshop - a converted railway carriage at the end of the garden. Dad, you see, is an inventor - and a rather eccentric and preoccupied inventor at that.
Because Dad hasn't sold any of his inventions yet and because Nan doesn't earn much as a school dinnerlady and part-time cleaner, there isn't much money sloshing around the house. In an attempt to earn some, Alex and Donna set up Eye Spy Investigations. Their first case is that of Kiki, a dog who has gone missing. The main suspects for the potential dog-napper are a homeless lady, a mysterious Russian in a fur hat and the bikers who hang out at a local cafe.
But animal crime isn't the only preoccupation for Alex and Donna. They're also determined to help their father commercialise Hamish the robot, his latest invention. These efforts lead the twins to uncover a shocking family secret about the mother they never knew.
Will the twins find Kiki? Will Hamish reverse the family fortunes? Will Dad come clean? Read Eye Spy to find out...
I thoroughly enjoyed this contemporary adventure story. It combines a mystery tale - where is Kiki, the missing dog? - with a family drama of secrets and lies. The mystery thread has a touch of the Enid Blyton about it, with a brother and sister pluckily investigating what they perceive to be a crime. And the family drama is much more contemporary, inhabiting an emotional landscape that children of today will all recognise. Parents are often less than truthful with their offspring, thinking to protect them. But children know when things aren't right. And Alex and Donna know things aren't right.
I loved the setting in Holcombe Bay, a seaside town that seems like an amalgamation of all the British seaside resorts I know and went to as a child. You can almost hear the seagulls, taste the icecream and feel the sand on the beach beneath your feet.
The writing is accessible and straightforward with a good pace and well-chosen vocabulary. Twins Alex and Donna are as close and close can be but they're also like chalk and cheese. Alex is reserved and cautious. Donna is outspoken and wears her heart on her sleeve. Readers will identify with and sympathise with them both. And there are some serious social issues covered gently too - I can imagine discussions about homelessness and our treatment of street people after children have read Eye Spy.
All in all, this story comes recommended by us. It's fun, yet serious too. And it has a really good heart.
Reviewed by Jill Murphy at The Book Bag
Saturday 19 March /Sunday 20 March 2016
Southend Local Authors Day (SALAD) at The Forum, Elmer Square, Southend-on-Sea. Saturday: 10am – 4pm. Sunday: 11am – 4pm. Admission free.
Come and meet me and other local authors and listen to talks on a variety of subjects. At 12 noon on Saturday I and my daughter, literary agent Louise Buckley, will be giving a talk entitled Routes into Publishing: -Traditional or Indie?
Eye Spy was awarded a Red Ribbon in the Wishing Shelf Awards 2016.
A fast-paced, exciting ‘whodunit’. A red ribbon winner.’ The Wishing Shelf Book Awards
b>Book Review by Jodie Cook
Title: Eye Spy
Author: Tessa Buckley
Review: For the offset I loved the twins; Alex and Donna and their quirky sibling relationship. I also liked their dad as a character he is loving but distant at times especially when he is working on his many inventions. I also liked the fact this book is very short at less than 150 pages long, making it quick and easy for readers of all levels.
It is a bit saddening that these children have a hard home life with a dead mother, and a sometimes absent father but they are also scared of their headmaster at school especially after their gambling den is broken up which was doing no harm in the first place, but they don't let these things dampen their spirits and they power on.
I loved how the story was fast paced and action packed from the offset, the characters are well flesh out and adorable. The plot is believable and very easy to follow so it is a suitable read for children/teens as well as adults. I love the use of tension and suspense especially in the poker game in the beginning of the story. As Alex and Donna begin their investigation we meet a host of secondary characters that are just a likeable and well developed as the main characters. This is an area where shorter novels like this one can fall down but Tessa Buckley has obviously carefully thought through every aspect of this novel.
Alex and Donna seems to uncover several things about the alleged dog-napping but it feels like they have accidentally stumbled upon something much larger than themselves. I loved how the twins are trying to find out about Kiki – the missing dog – focusing on a biker group that may be responsible for kidnapping the dog.
I also liked the fact we see more of their relationship with their father during their parents evening, and how the twins are being to become quite curious about their mother. This added a nice touch to the family dynamic. At almost half way through the novel I am really excited as to how the story line is going to play out and how all the issues are going to be resolved in the end.
I liked following the father's story line and how he struggles making money to support his family and he turns down an great opportunity because he won't get the money or recognition he feels he deserves and I sympathise with him because he worked extremely hard on Hamish and he wants what is best for his family and his career/reputation.
I really enjoyed seeing the happy family come apart as the twins especially Alex dig deeper for information on their mother who is still alive. I also liked how the twins separate story lines collide; the quest for information on their mother – which their nan and father has been hiding from them – and their quest to find Kiki. In entering the last 50 pages of the novel we are rushing towards the conclusion and we hope that everything will work out well and have a happy ending but as an avid reader I know it rarely works out this way.
I loved how things worked out in the end, it was not exactly a happy ending and there were a few loose ends but there is the promise of a better, fuller life for the twins and their family. This was a warm fluffy novel with a bit of mystery thrown in for good measure. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be recommending it to friends and family.
This book was sent to me by the author for review
Fresh from the success of solving its first case, Eye Spy Investigations is certainly up for another. So twins Alex and Donna jump at the chance to investigate the strange things happening at the Priory, home to school friend Jimmy Devlin. Alex doesn't believe in ghosts and he is very keen to persuade Donna that they don't exist.
But what about the strange power outages? What about the strange, robed figures that keep appearing? What about the items that keep going missing? Alex is about to have his own beliefs severely tested.
Outside the new investigation, things have changed for Alex and Donna since the first book in the series. Dad is still a mad inventor but no longer a penniless one as he has been employed by Holtech, a local tech company, to develop his robot. So there is now money sloshing around the house and Nan doesn't have to do quite so many cleaning jobs. She's still a school dinnerlady though, and she still has a very good line in tellings off. There's just one problem - robot technology is proprietary and secretive and Dad's job is secret, so the twins still get mocked at school about him and can't say anything. Other than that, though, everything is looking up...
... and will look up even further if the twins can get another solved case under the belt of Eye Spy Investigations.
This second story is as much fun as the first. Multiple mysteries are occurring at the Priory and it's obvious to the twins that the Devlin family has problems. But untangling what is and isn't real proves both tricky and dangerous. Alex still keeps his cards close to his chest while Donna is impetuous and impulsive, often getting herself into trouble. Together, they make a great investigating team. Nan still lectures given half a chance and Dad - who spends some of the book out of the country - is still distracted and slightly eccentric.
Eye Spy II is a fun read with relatable central characters and a great and varied background cast. I particularly enjoyed the appearance of a TV chef who is fun to watch on screen but pretty obnoxious in real life. Middle grade readers will enjoy the blend of mystery to be solved and kitchen sink issues to empathise with, I think. I certainly did. It's a great follow-up to the first book and further fleshes out what is promising to become a solid series. I'll look forward to reading the third instalment when it arrives!
by Jill Murphy The Book Bag
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I was about six when I wrote and illustrated my first story, and all through my childhood I was reading voraciously, writing stories, and keeping diaries. After I left school I went to Art College and worked in the field of architecture and design for some years before finally returning to writing after my children were born. I’ve been writing children’s fiction for a few years now, and working my way through an Open University history degree at the same time. Eye Spy is my first published novel.