Category Archives: Mystery

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary GraceOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Beautifully written with achingly wrought characters, it’s hard to conceive of this novel as a murder mystery because at its heart is is a coming of age story for two unremarkable midwestern boys in the summer of 1961. Drawn more than told by 13 year-old Frank, or rather 50 year-old Frank reflecting on the disastrous events of the summer he reckoned with racial prejudice, class, bullying, sex, passion, grief, murder, miracles, and faith and was thrust into adulthood. Krueger’s descriptions of summer in Minnesota in the 1960s are so evocative you can hear the chirping of the crickets and taste the Kool-Aid on your tongue, all the while turning pages swiftly to discover the next foreshadowed disaster to befall this charming small town. Echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird are felt here, with the strong sense of place, the flawless moral bearing of Frank’s father, Pastor Nathan Drum, and the loss of innocence that comes from eavesdropping on adult conversations that are not meant for children’s ears. This one will stick with me for a long time to come. ~ Ms Dimmick

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Mystery

One of Us Is Lying, by Karen McManus

One of Us Is LyingOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a review of an ARC from NetGalley.

Five students walk into detention. Four walk out – and one leaves in a body bag.

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars  (with a little Gossip Girl thrown in) in this YA thriller. Everyone in detention that day had a reason to hate Simon, the creator of Bayview High’s gossip app. Was it the golden boy star pitcher? The drug-dealer? The popular girl? The brain? (see what I mean about The Breakfast Club?) The case soon gains the attention of the national media and the kids find them selves forming an uneasy friendship as they try to prove their innocence while wondering if one of them is lying. Things get even more uneasy when someone starts sending anonymous emails across the school claiming to have planned the murder and framed the group for it.

This one is definitely more the Agatha Christie puzzle mystery than a dark Swedish thriller. The twists and turns were in some cases predictable, especially when it came to the romance, but it was a fun ride to follow along with. The book drags a bit in the middle while you’re waiting for more clues to show up, but the end was a satisfying solution that tied up the loose ends nicely. Mystery lovers and fans of the movies and series mentioned above should enjoy it. — Ms Schoen

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A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho

A Good IdeaA Good Idea by Cristina Moracho
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finley and Betty were friends for years before Finley’s parents split up and she moved to NYC with her mom. They remained close because Finley returned to their small town in Maine every summer to live with her dad. But the fall of their senior year, when they were both supposed to be applying to NYU, Betty died under mysterious circumstances. Finley is convinced that Betty was killed by her boyfriend and sets out to prove it when she returns for the summer following graduation. This is a gritty mystery with lots of twists and turns. ~ Ms. Steiger

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Student Review: Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher (reviewed by Tiffany W.)

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher is a tragic story about Hannah Baker, a girl who commits suicide and leaves behind 7 cassette tapes for thirteen people to listen to. Hannah threatens that if these tapes aren’t sent to each person in chronological order, she’ll have someone release a second set of tapes to the public. Within these tapes, she explains how these thirteen people are the thirteen reasons why she took her own life. She explains how she was used and tormented by horrible people. The story follows Clay Jensen, one of Hannah’s reasons, and his reaction to hearing her story from her perspective. When Clay first gets the tapes, he’s shocked that he’s listening to Hannah’s last words on tape. Through the night, Clay listens to the tapes on his friend’s walkman. He strolls around the city to the various places marked on the map that was given to him with the tapes. There are very serious topics discussed in this book, such as rape, suicide, and depression. People should definitely read this novel just for the experience. Depression and suicide aren’t really topics that are openly talked about, especially if one experiences it firsthand. The book also talks about signs of suicide that one could apply to everyday life. Reading this would give someone that doesn’t suffer from suicidal thoughts insight on the real hardships some people go through. On the other hand, this book probably isn’t suited for people that are easily triggered by these topics. ~ Student: Tiffany W.

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Filed under *Student Review, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Mystery

Student Review: My Sister’s Stalker, by Nancy Springer (reviewed by Gavrielle A.)

My Sister's StalkerMy Sister’s Stalker by Nancy Springer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In My Sister’s Stalker by Nancy Springer, 16 year-old Rig finds out his sister is being stalked. Karma is in college and Rig lives with his artsy mom who lives in her own world and rarely understands reality. In his free time, Rig looked his sister up on Google and came across a rather creepy shrine-like website dedicated to his sister. His spacey mother didn’t find pictures of Karma out and about, and in her room creepy at all. As a last resort, Rig secretly contacts his strong-headed, rude, overpowering father who he basically hates. Together they go all out to track down Karma’s stalker and keep her safe from whoever is getting creepier by the day. Rig grows up by taking more risks to attempt to save his sister from the angry and creepy stalker. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast but good read. The reader should enjoy action, mystery, and can handle a little gruesome details. It is definitely not horror. I would recommend it to anyone over age 12 and either gender. As a 15 year-old girl, I liked it but found it too easy. Nobody under 12 who gets scared extremely easily should read it.~ Student: Gavrielle A.

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Student Review: Looking for Alaska, by John Green (reviewed by Carly S.)

Looking for AlaskaLooking for Alaska by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Looking for Alaska is a novel by John Green. Miles, who everyone calls “Pudge,” moves to a new school in Alabama. This is the school that his dad went to so it is a tradition in his family for Pudge to go, as well, by a certain age. Pudge’s roommate, Chip, who is a small quirky guy, instantly clicks with Pudge and they become good friends. Early in the semester, Pudge meets a girl named Alaska (who becomes a main character) and instantly he falls for her. He loves Alaska’s presence and her views of the world. She makes Pudge do rebellious things that he might have not have done otherwise. Pudge begins to realize Alaska isn’t as happy as she makes herself out to be. One day Alaska goes missing and Pudge, along with their other friends, go looking for her. Will they find her? Is she alive? Where did she go? This book covers topics on being a good friend and learning how to solve problems. I think other people should read this book because it’s very unpredictable and has a lot of twists and turns. A reader who likes fiction and mysteries would really enjoy this book. A reader that likes predictable books should definitely avoid this book because you won’t be able to figure out what is going to happen so easily. ~ Student: Carly S.

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Filed under *Student Review, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Mystery

Student Review: Paper Towns, by John Green (reviewed by Carmen B.)

Paper TownsPaper Towns by John Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the book, Paper Towns, by John Green, the author creates tension that keeps you turning the pages. After an adventurous night of just the two of them, driving around getting revenge on the people that hurt her, Margo goes missing the next day. Quentin, her friend who is a teenage boy must put together the clues she left behind in order to find her. He has loved her from afar for 10 years, but they just recently became friends. It is up to Quentin to find Margo, he is the only one that can. Even in the very short time in which they connected, he is the only person that really sees Margo for who she is and not for what people want her to be. He is the only one who truly understands her. So therefore it is up to him to find Margo, and he barely knows where to start. Time is running out to find and bring Margo home alive. Who knows if she even wants to come back? This book touches the topics of loyalty and trust. Margo puts her trust in Quentin when she leaves the clues behind that only he would understand. I highly recommend this book to any teenager who is looking for a adventure-filled book and one that forces you to keep turning the pages. Although, if you are not a teenager you may not find this book entertaining and you won’t get anything out of it. Overall, I highly recommend it. ~Student: Carmen B.

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Filed under *Student Review, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Mystery

Zero Day, by Jan Gangsei

Zero DayZero Day by Jan Gangsei

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a review of an ARC from NetGalley.

It’s been 8 years since governor’s daughter Addie Webster disappeared. Now 17-year-old Addie is back, but things have changed since she was taken – her father is the president, and a group of cyber-terrorists has been engaged in increasingly more serious attacks designed to scare the government into tightening surveillance and security laws. Where was Addie all this time? And does her sudden reappearance have anything to do with the new attacks?

So, this is basically an airport book. By which I mean it’s something you would pick up in Hudson News before you get on a plane, just in case you’ve already seen the movie. And it has all the standards of the genre – easily guessable plot twists (why doesn’t Addie’s story add up? Will her childhood best friend turn out to be a new romance? Is *he* hiding something as well?), barely defined characters, car chases, shootouts, key characters who don’t show up until halfway through the book.

Much of it is utterly unbelievable (no matter how well trained I do NOT believe a teenage hacker could just jump onto the White House and NSA computer networks and start looking at the President’s computer). But the author does a decent job of keeping the plot trekking along. I did actually read this on a plane, and it did a perfectly fine job of passing the time. I don’t think it would be worth anything more than that though, and the cliff-hanger ending designed for a sequel seems like wishful hoping. ~Ms Schoen

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I am Princess X, by Cherie Priest

I Am Princess XI Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Libby and May have been best friends since 5th grade. Together, they created a Princess X, a comic about a ninja princess armed with a sword and a pair of Converse, who saves her kingdom from bad guys. Until the day that Libby and her mom died, and May’s world started to fall apart. Years later, May spots a sticker on the streets of Seattle – a princess, armed with a sword and a pair of Converse, with the caption “I am Princess X.” The sticker leads May to web comic whose story is eerily similar to Libby’s and hints at a mystery that only she can unravel.

I *adored* this. Just absolutely wonderful. The story is told through a combination of text and comics, so we learn Princess X’s story along with May. While the story is a bit outlandish, it was engaging enough to let me suspend disbelief at the action-movie bits towards the end. And I very much appreciated that May could find a tech guy to help her out and NOT immediately fall in love with him (and have him not be so super-techy as he thinks).~Ms. Schoen

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The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

The Caged GravesThe Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s 1867, and Verity Boone is leaving her home in busy Worcester, MA to go live with her father in rural Catawissa, Penn., where she will marry Nate, a neighboring farmer who won her heart through his letters and gifts of poetry. But when she arrives in the country, she doesn’t find the romantic reunion she was expecting. Her father is distant and busy with farm work, and Nate is nothing like his letters (which were were written based on suggestions from his sisters) and more interested in her father’s farm than her. Worse, she finds herself the subject of town gossip and rumors. Some of it is based on jealousy – Nate was one of the few eligible men left after the Civil War – but other nasty rumors reach her about her late mother and her family’s mysterious past.

Then, as Verity walks through a local churchyard, she discovers the graves of her mother and aunt, buried outside the cemetery walls, and enclosed in iron cages. As Verity tries to discover the stories of her mother’s life and death, and find the reason for the cages, she unearths more than she expected, with tales of witchcraft, strange deaths, and stolen Army gold. She also finds herself in a love triangle as she tries to deal with her complicated feelings about the semi-arranged marriage that she agreed to.

Salerni creates honest, relatable characters, especially Verity, a strong-willed girl with progressive ideas, who is not afraid to stand up for herself and for what she believes. And just as in life, most of the characters are more complicated than they appear at first, including Nate. A spooky, don’t-put-it-down thriller.

Ms. Schoen

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Filed under Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance