A smart, entertaining time-travel mystery.

THE LAST TAG

After being transported to ancient Roman times, a young man must solve a young girl’s murder.

Life in Arizona isn’t so great for EB—his Dad is overworked, his mom lives in another state and doesn’t want to see him—so he spends his time tagging around the neighborhood. However, trouble starts when he encounters the ghost of a young girl in an abandoned house, and she begs him to solve the mystery of her murder. Unfortunately for EB, Aurelia’s murder took place in A.D. 78 in a Roman city near Pompeii called Herculaneum. Once he realizes he can’t ignore her request, he’s magically transported there. EB knows a little Latin from school, but he also knows that there’s only a limited amount of time before Mount Vesuvius erupts. As he meets various members of Aurelia’s family and their well-off Roman acquaintances, his graffiti skills come in handy: Leaving a message on a street wall helps him track down the culprit. The stakes get higher on a personal level when EB catches the eye of a young Roman girl from a prominent family that’s tied to Aurelia’s death; in turn, he makes an enemy of her brother. As EB begins putting the clues together, he has the genius idea to expose the murder in a very public fashion so that Aurelia’s family might be avenged and her ghost can find closure. The climax of the novel occurs during a remarkably tense scene at the Roman theater. Though readers must suspend disbelief that EB would fit into ancient Roman society so seamlessly, the novel moves along at a solid pace and the motivations for the murder are well-plotted. EB’s voice is charmingly youthful and acerbic, while also recalling the sharp observations of old film detectives.

A smart, entertaining time-travel mystery.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469908151

Page Count: 338

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge.

THE LAKE

Two teens with a dark secret return to their old summer camp.

Childhood friends Esme and Kayla can’t wait to return to Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training, ready to try everything they couldn’t do when they were younger: find cute boys, stay up late, and sneak out after hours. Even Andy, their straight-laced supervisor, can’t dampen their excitement, especially after they meet the crushworthy Olly and Jake. An intuitive 17-year-old, Esme is ready to jump in and teach her cute little campers. But when a threatening message appears, Esme and Kayla realize the secret they’ve kept hidden for nearly a decade is no longer safe. Paranoia and fear soon cause Esme and Kayla to revisit their ominous secret and realize that nobody in the camp can be trusted. The slow buildup of suspense and the use of classic horror elements contrast with lighthearted camp activities, bonding with new friends, and budding romance. Similarly, Esme’s first-person point of view allows for increased tension and action as well as offering insight into her emotional and mental well-being. Discussions of adulthood, trauma, and recovery are subtle and realistic, but acts of sexism and machismo aren’t fully analyzed. While the strong buildup of action comes late, it leads to a shockingly satisfying finale. Major characters are White.

An eerie thriller reminiscent of summer horror movies that will keep readers on edge. (Thriller. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12497-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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