Tag Archives: Mystery

The Word is Murder by David Horowitz

The Word Is Murder by David Horowitz. June 5, 2018. Harper, 390 p. ISBN: 9780062676788.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 740.

SHE PLANNED HER OWN FUNERAL. BUT DID SHE ARRANGE HER OWN MURDER?

New York Times bestselling author of Magpie Murders and Moriarty, Anthony Horowitz has yet again brilliantly reinvented the classic crime novel, this time writing a fictional version of himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper – the wealthy mother of a famous actor – enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

Potentially Sensitive Areas:Strong language, Suicide, Violence

 

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Reviews

Booklist starred (April 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 15))
Actually, the word is not murder, it’s ingenious. Horowitz, who out-Christied Christie in Magpie Murders (2017), now out-Doyles Doyle by inserting himself (his actual self) into the story as the Watson-like narrator of a murder investigation he is drawn into by a brilliant and eccentric detective, Daniel Hawthorne. No one arranges her own funeral at 11 a.m. on a beautiful spring day and then gets herself murdered a mere six hours later in her own home, right? Well, Diane Cowper manages to do just that. No CCTV footage, fingerprints, or DNA traces, and no sign of a break-in, so the only clue to go on is that the victim must have opened the door to her assailant. Hawthorne has been called in as a consultant by the police and invites Horowitz to tag along because he wants the author to write a book about him. Horowitz, who started out as a television screenwriter, creating both the acclaimed Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War, finds real crime unlike anything he ever experienced while holding a cleverly devised script on a carefully designed set. Not to mention a dangerous one. A masterful meta-mystery.

Kirkus Reviews starred (March 1, 2018)
Television writer/Christie-loving Sherlock-ian Horowitz (Magpie Murders, 2017, etc.) spins a fiendishly clever puzzle about a television writer/Christie-loving Sherlock-ian named Anthony Something who partners with a modern Sherlock Holmes to solve a baffling case. Six hours after widowed London socialite Diana Cowper calls on mortician Robert Cornwallis to make arrangements for her own funeral, she’s suddenly in need of them after getting strangled in her home. The Met calls on murder specialist Daniel Hawthorne, an ex-DI bounced off the force for reasons he’d rather not talk about, and he calls on the narrator (“nobody ever calls me Tony”), a writer in between projects whose agent expects him to be working on The House of Silk, a Holmes-ian pastiche which Horowitz happens to have published in real life. Anthony’s agreement with Hawthorne to collaborate on a true-crime account of the case is guaranteed to blindside his agent (in a bad way) and most readers (in entrancingly good ways). Diana Cowper, it turns out, is not only the mother of movie star Damian Cowper, but someone who had her own brush with fame 10 years ago when she accidentally ran over a pair of 8-year-old twins, killing Timothy Godwin and leaving Jeremy Godwin forever brain-damaged. A text message Diana sent Damian moments before her death—“I have seen the boy who was lacerated and I’m afraid”—implicates both Jeremy, who couldn’t possibly have killed her, and the twins’ estranged parents, Alan and Judith Godwin, who certainly could have. But which of them, or which other imaginable suspect, would have sneaked a totally unpredictable surprise into her coffin and then rushed out to commit another murder? Though the impatient, tightfisted, homophobic lead detective is impossible to love, the mind-boggling plot triumphs over its characters: Sharp-witted readers who think they’ve solved the puzzle early on can rest assured that they’ve opened only one of many dazzling Christmas packages Horowitz has left beautifully wrapped under the tree.

About the Author

Anthony Horowitz is perhaps the busiest writer in England. He has been writing since the age of eight, and professionally since the age of twenty. He writes in a comfortable shed in his garden for up to ten hours per day. In addition to the highly successful Alex Rider books, he has also written episodes of several popular TV crime series, including Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid. He has written a television series Foyle’s War, which recently aired in the United States, and he has written the libretto of a Broadway musical adapted from Dr. Seuss’s book, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. His film script The Gathering has just finished production. And — oh yes — there are more Alex Rider novels in the works. Anthony has also written the Diamond Brothers series.

Her website is www.anthonyhorowitz.com

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The Island of Monsters by Ellen Oh

The Island of Monsters by Ellen Oh. July 31, 2018. HarperCollins, 256 p. ISBN: 9780062430113.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.9; Lexile: 700.

Harper Raine faces new challenges ahead when her parents take the whole family to a remote tropical island for vacation. As Harper starts to have visions of the resort’s history of disappearances and discovers more about the island’s dark and fabled past, she must use her newly acquired spirit hunting talents to save everyone on the island from murderous spirits on the attack.

Sequel to: Spirit Hunters

Part of series: Spirit Hunters(Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Mention of C-section childbirth

 

 

About the Author

Originally from New York City, Ellen Oh is the founder of We Need Diverse Books and the author of the Prophecy trilogy (ProphecyWarrior, and King) for young adults. Spirit Hunters is her fourth book and her first for middle grade readers. A former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history, Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and three daughters and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

Her website is www.ellenoh.com

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Whatshisface by Gordon Korman

Whatshisface by Gordon Korman. May 8, 2018. Scholastic Press, 240 p. ISBN: 9781338200164.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.4; Lexile: 770.

Gordon Korman’s newest standalone novel, is a fun, funny ghost story about a nobody kid who becomes a somebody while helping a ghost right a wrong from the past.

When 12-year-old Cooper Vega moves for the third time in five years, he receives a state-of-the-art smartphone to help him stay in touch with old friends. He’s had phones before, but this one is buggy and unpredictable. When a boy named Roderick Northrop communicates with him through the phone, Cooper realizes that his phone isn’t buggy at all: the thing is haunted!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 4-7. After moving five times in three years, Cooper’s not surprised when the kids at Stratford Middle School call him Whatshisface, but two new acquaintances stun him. First Jolie, a petite, self-assured classmate who loves theater and extreme sports, befriends him. Then he meets Roddy, the ghost of a 13-year-old Elizabethan apprentice, who inhabits his new cell phone and claims to have written the original version of Romeo and Juliet. The plot thickens when both Jolie’s and Cooper’s brutish nemeses take the leading roles in the seventh-grade production of the play. Meanwhile, Cooper and Roddy attempt to retrieve his original manuscript from a billionaire’s secret vault. The novel has a bit of everything: history, crime, suspense, romance, and plenty of humor. While becoming more familiar with sixteenth-century English customs and language, readers will have the fun of hearing Roddy react to twentieth-century American culture and technology. The question “Who wrote Shakespeare’s plays?” arises, but pales in comparison with “What would you do to help a friend?” Korman’s latest is an enjoyable romp from start to finish.

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-Army brat Cooper Vega is used to starting over in new places and being practically invisible. As he starts seventh grade at yet another school, his parents have given him a state-of-the-art cell phone. Unfortunately, the phone proves to be haunted by the ghost of an Elizabethan printer’s apprentice who claims to be the original author of Romeo and Juliet, which is being performed at his new school. Funny scenarios abound, especially when Cooper starts taking the ghost’s advice on how to impress the girl he likes. This humorous and well-paced read touches on bullying, crushes, and popularity, with a side of the Bard. VERDICT Korman fans will not be disappointed.-Misti Tidman, -Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, OH

About the Author

Korman wrote his first book, “This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall”, when he was 12 years old, for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English. He later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in “The Sixth Grade Nickname Game”, wherein Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.

Korman moved to New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While in New York, he met his future wife; live in Long Island with their three children.

He has published more than 50 books.

His website is gordonkorman.com.

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The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage

The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage. September 11, 2018. Kathy Dawson Books, 368 p. ISBN: 9780803739628.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.3; Lexile: 580.

Pirates, family, and the truth about Mo’s Upstream Mother collide in the conclusion to the Newbery Honor and New York Times bestselling Three Times Lucky 

When the Colonel and Miss Lana share the clues about Mo’s watery origins that they’ve been saving, it seems the time is finally right for the Desperado Detectives (aka Mo, Dale, and Harm) to tackle the mystery of Mo’s Upstream Mother. It’s the scariest case Mo’s had by far. But before they can get started, Mayor Little’s mean mother hires them to hunt in her attic for clues to Blackbeard’s treasure, which could be buried right in Tupelo Landing. Turns out, the Desperados aren’t the only ones looking. A professional treasure hunter named Gabe has come to town with Harm’s estranged mother–and soon the race is on, even though the treasure’s rumored to be cursed. As centuries- and decades-old secrets are dragged into the light, there isn’t a single person in Tupelo Landing quite prepared for all that they uncover. Especially Mo.

The fourth and last book in the Mo & Dale Mystery series and the long-awaited conclusion to Three Times LuckyThe Law of Finders Keepers is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, honest, and hilarious adventure that you can read right after you finish Three Times Lucky.

Sequel to: The Odds of Getting Even

Part of Series: Mo and Dale Mysteries (Book #4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Criminal Culture

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 4-6. It’s a rare snowy day in eastern North Carolina when a bombastic out-of-towner arrives in Tupelo Landing to hunt for Blackbeard’s treasure. Sixth-graders Mo, Dale, and Harm form a rival team of searchers with the advantage of local knowledge, friends, and relations. Meanwhile, new clues emerge regarding Mo’s “Upstream Mother.” Pulled from a nearby river during a hurricane flood as an infant and taken in by her beloved “family of choice” (Miss Lana and the Colonel), Mo yearns to know about her blood kin. Mo, Dale, and Harm follow up every lead that might help uncover her past. As readers learned in the previous series volumes, beginning with Three Times Lucky (2012), Turnage’s fine-tuned talent for storytelling is as evident as her understated, irrepressible humor and her creative ability to turn a phrase, such as Mo’s description of an unsympathetic character after a disappointment: “his face going as soft and pale as raw dumplings.” While the plot and subplots veer off in unexpected directions, they intertwine at points before the satisfying conclusion. The large, intergenerational cast of idiosyncratic characters enriches this first-person narrative at every turn. Amusing, dramatic, and tender, this memorable chapter book is the final volume of the Mo & Dale Mystery series.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2018)
In this fourth entry about Mo and Dale (beginning with Three Times Lucky, rev. 7/12), sixth graders Mo LoBeau, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, and Harm Crenshaw are still operating their world-famous Desperado Detective Agency. This time up, they have two mysteries to solve. The first brings new evidence concerning Mo’s continuing search for her biological mother, and the second plays on North Carolina lore as they pursue Blackbeard’s lost treasure. Having previously introduced the various inhabitants and setting of Tupelo Landing and established the main characters, here Turnage is free to concentrate on plot and her signature down-home Southern language. Characters grow and reveal their own complexities throughout the course of the novel: Harm must come to grips with his relationship with his mother, Mo needs to think about her mixed feelings for Harm, and Dale requires kissing lessons in preparation for Valentine’s Day. But the heart of the novel is the mysteries, and the solution to both involves more sophisticated detective work than the Desperados have employed before. This is a sit-back-and-let-the-story-carry-you kind of novel, but one that leaves questions of family and community for readers to ponder after the last page is turned. betty carter

About the Author

Sheila Turnage is from eastern North Carolina, just like Miss Moses LoBeau, the protagonist from the Mo & Dale mystery series that began with Three Times LuckyThree Times Lucky is a Newbery Honor Book, a New York Times bestseller, an E. B. White Read-Aloud Honor Book, and an Edgar Award finalist. It has been nominated for nineteen state awards, including the Texas Bluebonnet Master List, and has been licensed in five countries. Her follow-up book, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, also a New York Times bestseller, received five starred reviews and was a SIBA Winter 2014 Okra Pick and a Junior Library Guild selection. Sheila is also the author of two more books in the Mo & Dale Mystery series, The Odds of Getting Even and The Law of Finders Keepers, and the nonfiction adult books Haunted Inns of the Southeast and Compass American Guides: North Carolina, as well as one picture book, Trout the Magnificent, illustrated by Janet Stevens. Her website is www.sheilaturnage.com

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The Agony House by Cherie Priest

The Agony House by Cherie Priest. September 25, 2018. Arthur A. Levine Books, 272 p. ISBN: 9780545934299.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Denise Farber has just moved back to New Orleans with her mom and step-dad. They left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and have finally returned, wagering the last of their family’s money on fixing up an old, rundown house and converting it to a bed and breakfast.

Nothing seems to work around the place, which doesn’t seem too weird to Denise. The unexplained noises are a little more out of the ordinary, but again, nothing too unusual. But when floors collapse, deadly objects rain down, and she hears creepy voices, it’s clear to Denise that something more sinister lurks hidden here.

Answers may lie in an old comic book Denise finds concealed in the attic: the lost, final project of a famous artist who disappeared in the 1950s. Denise isn’t budging from her new home, so she must unravel the mystery-on the pages and off-if she and her family are to survive…

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 7-10. Following up on a successful collaboration with Kali Ciesemier in I Am Princess X​ (2016), Priest pairs with O’Connor to neatly weave together the history of comic books and contemporary concerns about gentrification into an eerie ghost story set in a ramshackle house that’s as much a character as the people living in it. Denise, her mom, and her stepdad have just moved into a nearly destroyed, once-beautiful house in New Orleans, and almost right away, Denise starts noticing odd things. First, they’re harmless, if creepy, but later, unexplained, dangerous accidents happen as the family renovates the house. But the comic book manuscript Denise finds carefully hidden in the attic (pages of which appear throughout the novel) is the key to the source of the poltergeists. Meanwhile, Denise’s neighbors are uneasy about outsiders capitalizing on cheap property in New Orleans, and Priest does a great job of skillfully including the important conversations Denise and her family have with their new community. At its heart, though, this is a ghost story, and Priest excels at building palpable atmosphere: Denise’s parents’ anxiety about their shoestring budget, the sweltering New Orleans summer heat, the disrepair of the house (“soggy plaster fell from the studs like wet cake”), and the increasingly terrifying haunting. Dynamic characters and a surprising mystery round out this sharp, satisfying, and engrossingly spooky story.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
A white family’s attempts to renovate a storm-wracked Victorian New Orleans house are complicated by bitterly contending ghosts. The resident spirits aren’t particularly reticent either, readily manifesting not only to 17-year-old Denise and her newlywed mother and stepfather, but to visiting neighbors as well—as a whiff of perfume, creeping shadows, a falling ceiling, and other ominous portents. But rather than being a stereotypical screamer, Denise has much in common (characterwise, at least) with intrepid, gun-toting Lucida Might, girl crime fighter and star of a 1950s manuscript comic Denise finds in the attic. Priest (Brimstone, 2017, etc.) ably weaves contemporary issues and a feminist strand into this fantasy as, while briskly fending off ghostly visitations and searching out clues to the house’s violent past, Denise makes new friends and encounters pushback from some St. Roch neighbors rightfully leery of white gentrifiers. Highlighted by a wonderfully melodramatic climax, the author brings her plotlines to upbeat resolutions with a thrilling discovery, a revelation about the comic’s author, and a degree of general community acceptance of Denise and her family. Nearly every character’s race, white or black, is carefully but unobtrusively specified. O’Connor (The Altered History of Willow Sparks, 2018) inserts multiple pages from the comic and atmospheric stand-alone illustrations all printed in haint blue. Conflicts, ectoplasmic and otherwise, laid to rest in a deliciously creepy setting. (Graphic/novel hybrid ghost fantasy. 11-13)

About the Author

Cherie Priest is the author of I Am Princess X, her debut young adult novel which earned three starred reviews and was a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. She is also the author of more than a dozen adult science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels, including Boneshaker, which won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.

Her website is www.cheriepriest.com/

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The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro. March 6, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 349 p. ISBN: 9780062398970.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken.

Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for.

Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time.

Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

Sequel to: The Last of August

Part of series: Charlotte Holmes (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Mention of sexual assault and rape

 

Book Trailer

 

About the Author

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the author of the Charlotte Holmes novels from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, including A Study in Charlotte and The Last of August. She’s also the author of the poetry collection Girl-King (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she’s a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, cat, and collection of deerstalker caps.

Her website is http://brittanycavallaro.com.

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Strangers by David A. Robertson

Strangers by David A. Robertson. October 10, 2017. HighWater Press, 216 p. ISBN: 9781553796763.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 630.

When Cole Harper is compelled to return to Wounded Sky First Nation, he finds his community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging the residents, and reemerging questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away 10 years ago. With the aid of an unhelpful spirit, a disfigured ghost, and his two oldest friends, Cole tries to figure out his purpose, and unravel the mysteries he left behind a decade ago. Will he find the answers in time to save his community?

Strangers is the first novel in The Reckoner series by David Alexander Robertson, award–winning writer, and author of HighWater Press’ acclaimed children’s book When We Were Alone.

Part of Series:  The Reckoner (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2017)
A YA fantasy tells the story of a teen returning home to seek redemption. High school basketball star Cole Harper hasn’t been back to his Canadian hometown of Wounded Sky in 10 years. But when a friend from childhood asks him to return, he can’t bring himself to refuse. When he arrives, it becomes clear that it isn’t just Cole who has been harboring ill feelings in the intervening years. Many members of his First Nation band are still angry at Cole over how he survived the school fire that killed others long ago—and who he helped save during it. When Cole confronts Ashley, the friend who begged him to return, he learns that it was actually someone else using Ashley’s phone: an anthropomorphic coyote spirit who goes by the name of Choch. As surprised as Cole is to have a coyote talking to him, he recognizes that Choch is the same figure who appeared to him during the previous tragedy, offering him the power to save his friends at the cost of the deaths of others. Now he has a new offer for the teen: death is coming to Wounded Sky, and it will claim everyone in Cole’s band unless he can find a way to stop it. Aided by his two best friends from childhood as well as the ghost of another classmate and the coyote spirit himself, Cole must try to redeem his past by preserving the future for as many people as he can. In this series opener, Robertson (When We Were Alone, 2016, etc.) writes in a taut prose that harnesses sensory details to subtly accrue tension: “Sounds were more intimate inside the rink: the shred of metal against ice, the snap of wood against rubber, the collision of body against body, then body against board; and finally, the crowd and its fickle crescendo.” The tone deftly oscillates between moodiness and humor, capturing the angst of the tale’s teens without becoming self-serious. Though this is very much an archetypal story, the blend of Native American fantasy elements and a noirish Canadian setting make this a memorable addition to the genre. A promising first episode of a new series with a striking hero and a coyote spirit.

About the Author

David A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (Governor General’s Literary Award winner, McNally Robinson Best Book For Young People winner, TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award finalist), Will I See? (winner Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award Graphic Novel Category), and the YA novel Strangers. David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues.

David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg. His website is www.darobertson.ca.

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The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. March 27, 2018. Arthur A. Levine Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9780545946179.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.9.

The letter waits in a book, in a box, in an attic, in an old house in Lambert, South Carolina. It’s waiting for Candice Miller.

When Candice finds the letter, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, after all, who left Lambert in a cloud of shame. But the letter describes a young woman named Siobhan Washington. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle. Grandma tried and failed. But now Candice has another chance.

So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues in the letter. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the summer ends?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Discrimination, Violence, Alcohol, Vandalism, Name-calling

 

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 11))
Grades 5-7. From the author of The Great Greene Heist (2014) comes the exciting adventure of two kids searching for a hidden treasure. Candice’s summer has been the worst, until she finds a letter in her grandma’s attic that led to her grandma being driven out of their town of Lambert, South Carolina. The letter offers clues about the untold history of a young African American woman named Siobhan Washington and about a secret game of tennis. Candice teams up with Brandon, the boy next door, and dives into the hidden history of Lambert to finish what her grandma started. Following each new discovery, Johnson reveals a key moment in the past that uncovers a secret love and a great injustice. While Candice works through her parents’ divorce and moving, Brandon deals with being bullied by a boy from school. The mystery offers them a way to seek justice for Candice’s grandma, but it also helps them deal with their own struggles. A dazzling and emotional read that deals with serious topics such as bullying, racism, and divorce.

Kirkus Reviews starred (January 1, 2018)
Summer is off to a terrible start for 12-year old African-American Candice Miller. Six months after her parents’ divorce, Candice and her mother leave Atlanta to spend the summer in Lambert, South Carolina, at her grandmother’s old house. When her grandmother Abigail passed two years ago, in 2015, Candice and her mother struggled to move on. Now, without any friends, a computer, cellphone, or her grandmother, Candice suffers immense loneliness and boredom. When she starts rummaging through the attic and stumbles upon a box of her grandmother’s belongings, she discovers an old letter that details a mysterious fortune buried in Lambert and that asks Abigail to find the treasure. After Candice befriends the shy, bookish African-American kid next door, 11-year-old Brandon Jones, the pair set off investigating the clues. Each new revelation uncovers a long history of racism and tension in the small town and how one family threatened the black/white status quo. Johnson’s latest novel holds racism firmly in the light. Candice and Brandon discover the joys and terrors of the reality of being African-American in the 1950s. Without sugarcoating facts or dousing it in post-racial varnish, the narrative lets the children absorb and reflect on their shared history. The town of Lambert brims with intrigue, keeping readers entranced until the very last page. A candid and powerful reckoning of history. (Historical mystery. 8-12)

About the Author

Varian Johnson is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including The Great Greene Heist, which was an ALA Notable Children’s Book, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2014, and a Texas Library Association Lone Star List selection, and To Catch a Cheat, another Jackson Greene adventure and a Kids’ Indie Next List pick.

He lives with his family near Austin, Texas. His website is www.varianjohnson.com.

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The Wheel of Life and Death by Julian Sedgwick

The Wheel of Life and Death by Julian Sedgwick. February 1, 2018. Carolrhoda Books, 344 p. ISBN: 9781467775694.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.9; Lexile: 810.

After a close call with an assassin in Barcelona, Danny is more convinced than ever that his parents–star performers in the Mysterium circus–died under suspicious circumstances. He’s also sure that there’s a traitor within the Mysterium. As the troupe heads to Berlin for a circus festival, Danny scrambles to unravel the clues his father left behind. He’ll need his decoding skills–plus some extremely risky circus tricks–to find out what really happened to his parents and who’s still trying to sabotage the Mysterium. Can he expose his parents’ killer before disaster strikes again?

Sequel to: The Palace of Memory

Part of series: Mysterium (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Criminal culture, Murder

 

 

About the Author

Born in rural East Kent in 1966 Julian Sedgwick resolved to become a writer at an early age. He and his brother (writer Marcus Sedgwick) relied on their imaginations, and each other, to entertain themselves – inspired by their father’s love of cinema, theatre and storytelling.

Julian took a long detour whilst working out what and how to write – via a degree and a half at Cambridge University reading Oriental Studies and Philosophy, dying his hair various ill-advised colours, working as a bookseller, painter, therapist and researcher for film and TV – before moving into screenplay development and writing.

A lifelong interest in the arts and culture of China and Japan has influenced much of his work, as has his fascination with performance, street art and circus.

Julian lives near Ely, Cambridgeshire, with his wife and two sons, waiting impatiently for it to get cold enough to go Fen skating.

Her website is http://www.juliansedgwick.co.uk.

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People Like Us by Dana Mele

People Like Us by Dana Mele. February 28, 2018. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 384 p. ISBN: 9781524741709.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Suicide, Homophobic language, Inappropriate relationship between teacher and student

 

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Reviews

Booklist (December 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 7))
Grades 9-12. Murder, mayhem, and unreliable friendships take center stage in Mele’s debut novel. Kay Donovan, a popular girl known for her soccer skills and her biting humor, gets more than she bargained for when she and her friends go to the lake, after a night of dancing, and a girl’s body turns up, frozen and with her wrists slit. When Kay gets an email the day after, things take a dark turn, and she ends up ruining the lives of former friends and classmates in an effort to assuage her own guilt. As she embarks on the digital scavenger hunt in an effort to clear her name, Kay starts to wonder who is actually behind it all. To some extent, the pacing is inconsistent, and certain characters are static in the end, which may lead readers to wonder how certain relationships came to be. Mele, however, manages to weave a tale of mystery, intrigue, and revenge in the style of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007), but with its own twists to keep readers on their toes.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2017)
For some girls, it’s a killer getting into Bates Academy. For others, attending the elite prep school means getting killed.When Kay Donovan and her popular senior classmates uphold the tradition of skinny dipping in the lake after the Halloween dance, they’re surprised to find the dead body of Jessica Lane, a fellow student. But it’s not the first time Kay has seen a dead body—and someone knows it. As she, her friends, and other acquaintances begin answering questions for the police, the teen also receives an email from Jessica’s account that takes her to a revenge website. There, Kay receives instructions to take down all her friends—this one for doping, that one for sleeping with a professor—or her own secrets will be revealed. The debut novel has all the tropes one would expect from a prep school mystery: plenty of backstabbing, predominantly white young socialites (except for Brie with “smooth brown skin”), and frequent parties with alcohol and sex. Yet this intertwined mystery that has readers figuring out Jessica’s murderer and Kay’s secrets (and their possible connections) is more than these clichés. The characters and their relationships are nuanced, especially bisexual Kay, who has intimate encounters with males and females. The blend of predictable prep school elements with unpredictable suspense makes this a fizzy read for fans of the genre. (Mystery. 14-18)

About the Author

Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer and a work at home mother. A graduate of Wellesley College, she is a former actor, lawyer, musician, and briefly, associate producer. She prefers tea to coffee, snow to sand, and stars to sunshine, and she lives in the Catskills with her husband and toddler.

Her website is www.danamele.com

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