333Z: Australian Teenager on the Road, Searching for Biological Mother

In the first half of 2002, I got most of the way through a self-contained YA mystery series. I think there were ten books in total, each about 100-120 pages, probably published recently. I was attending a Canadian high school at the time and discovered the series while volunteering at another school’s library. I read all but the last one (I suspect the school year ended before I had a chance to borrow that one). I’d like to know how the series concluded, but every attempt I’ve made at finding these books online has hit a dead end. I either find nothing, or I find an earlier online description of the series that I wrote in 2015.
The protagonist is a young woman from Australia (as I recall), about sixteen, named something like Blake or Blaine. The series has her name in the title along the lines of ‘The Blake Journals’ or ‘The Blaine Files’ or the like. The first volume opens with her leaving home in a carefully thought-out plan to run away. She disappears in the middle of the night, grabs her possessions, and takes to the road on some kind of motor scooter or moped. We eventually learn that her goal is to locate her biological mother, who vanished years ago. As I recall, there’s very little in terms of action-adventure: this is more about a quiet and painstaking solo quest.
The books’ cover images were nearly identical. They all had the series title in large yellow-and-black typography, staggered a bit for a vintage-typewriter look to convey mystery/edginess. If I had to guess, a publishing house cranked these out in a short period of time as a one-off, but clearly the series intrigued me enough that I read about 90% of it, and now I’m finding it tantalizing.

 

333F: Greenwich Village jazz father and son (Solved!)


Growing up in a small town in Eastern Washington in the early 1970’s, I read a book I still remember. It’s a middle school targeted chapter book with a few line drawing illustrations. My copy was paperback. It features a father and son, the dad is a jazz musician / fan, I think they live in the Village - or at least someplace downtown NYC. Maybe there is some music that is played on the rooftop? Maybe parents are divorced? Published pre-1974.

332V: Witch Balls & a Cursed Child’s Palm

I read this book at some point during late grade school/junior high, probably between 4th & 8th grade, so somewhere between 1980-86. It was a pre-teen horror of the old school, by which I mean it assumes kids can actually handle seriously creepy, potentially life-threatening stuff. It was an older library book that our awesome school librarian recommended to me. Maybe published in the 50's or 60's? Definitely before the late 70's, given the age of the library's copy & when I read it. Unfortunately, there's no cover art I can reference as it had a green cloth binding with no dust jacket.

I don't remember much of the plot but what I do remember is as follows: A junior-high aged girl goes to visit her grandmother for the summer in a small village. Grandma is a witch (good, natch). Another woman has moved into town & grandma suspects her to be a bad witch. Bad witch tries to start a witch war. I can't remember if it was for a specific reason or just because she was a bad witch & that's what bad witches do. Similar in feel to The House With a Clock In Its Walls series or the Green Knowe books but a smidge darker. I believe it was located somewhere in New England, but I wouldn't swear to it. I *think* there were cars & telephones but the time frame was kinda vague. Or my memory is. And that's all for the overall plot.

I do, however, remember some weird specifics. The grandma hung a witch ball over the front door to see if the new neighbor was evil. She had a bottle tree, too. There were lots of nifty little folkloric witchy things like that. The thing that sticks clearest in my mind is that grandma gets a letter with what appears to be child's hand print. Grandma recognizes it as the actual skin of a child's hand & proceeds to place the skin inside an old Bible, which she wraps up tightly so it can't be opened because said palm skin is a curse. That scene has stuck with me ever since I read it, as one might imagine. It's pretty unique. Other than that, I can remember exactly where it was located in my grade school library but that's probably not much help. (Second from last bookcase on the left, third shelf from the top, right side, below the Nancy Drew books.)

 

332T: Atlantean? Girl Next Door

I am trying to find the name of a book I read as a child. The plot is basically that the girl who lives next door to the protagonist is weird and can 'float for joy' - that is, levitate. She turns out to be a descendant of Atlantis or something similar - an elder race in decline now living discretely amongst humans. They cannot interbreed - at one point the Atlanteans are described analogously to horses and humans akin to donkeys. The result is something like a mule. I think it might have been hazardous for the humans and the others to touch? Painful?

Media - Single Book / Novel

Date of Publication - Pretty sure it was in either a children's section of a public library or a school library and it pre-dates 1995. Might even pre-date 1988.

Major Themes - Decline of a race / empire?

Characters - Two children, one human, one otherwise. However, I cannot remember if the protagonist was male or female.

Language - The book was in English and I read it in England.

Target Audience - Older children? Teens?

332D: Dark Fairy Tale

I have been looking for years for a YA book I read years ago, and I am hoping you can help. This is what I remember – which could be wrong:
  • Young adult fiction
  • Part of a series
  • Dark retelling of classic fairy tales
  • Checked out from my local library between 1999-2008
  • Around the same time I read “Just Ella” by Margaret Peterson Haddix, and this would have been around the same time period and genre. This could even be written by her as well.
The book is set in a fairy-tale land, or ‘medieval’ era. The main character is a young girl who is a witch, or just finds out she is a witch, or is learning to be a witch. The girl becomes the town witch/medicine lady who people come to for medicinal needs. There is a distinct part in the book where someone comes to her with their baby who was born with either six fingers or six toes- and they want it removed, but through magic. The witch knows she can cure it without magic, but she needed to put on some sort of a show, so she draws the circle and summons the demons, but she ends up just biting off the baby’s finger/toe herself and pretending it was the demon. She is found out, the demons demand payment, and she is in big trouble.
Essentially, this is a dark retelling of a fairy tale but I could not tell you which princess she was supposed to be.
I’d love to find this book again!

331X: Lonely 13th Android

I read this book around 1983 from my school’s Jr. High Library. The main character is an android who believes he is the last one built. His maker has died and, while quite brilliant, was a very superstitious man.

The sentient android looks like a human in every way. He is the most perfect model. He had learned how to build replicas prior to his maker’s death, so he builds replicas and programs them to send him a portion of their paycheck after they blend into society. He does this for decades so he amasses great wealth, but he is lonely. Although an occasional woman shows up in his life through the years, he never connects with them. There is no one to share his life with so he starts to hunt for his siblings: the other androids made by his maker.
He finds them all (so he thinks) and none of them are a match either. Finally a woman appears and surprises him. She knows all his details. In fact, she is the random woman who has appeared to him throughout the decades. She too is an android. She explains that, yes, there were 13 androids built, but the maker was too superstitious to label an android “13.” So all these years our hero android thought he was the most advanced model, but there was one build after him. She had never revealed herself before because she believed he needed to mature

331M: Deathwatch meets The Most Dangerous Game

I read this YA book in the mid to late 70’s. It is definitely NOT Deathwatch or The Most Dangerous Game but it has similarities to both.  A man is being hunted by another man – I think simply because the hunter enjoys it.  I’m not sure if the hunted man has any weapons or vehicle.  The setting may be Africa or the southwest US.  There are a couple of plot twists.  The hunted man meets someone who offers to help him, but then it turns out that person also wants to kill him.  And then in another twist, maybe that turns out to be a mistaken impression. Or maybe the first guy ends up helping the hunted man because it turns out the second guy is the real bad guy.  The question of who he can trust is a big part of the plot.