Stim’s entertaining debut takes the reader into a houseboat community as a young preteen tries to catch a killer.

Mary Francis Jackson, 12, known as “Frankie” to her friends, is spending the summer with her aunt Roxy in Sausalito, Calif. Roxy lives on a houseboat, and Frankie enjoys spending her days getting to know her aunt’s eccentric neighbors. It helps Frankie forget the reason she’s in California instead of her home state of New Jersey—she got into trouble after retaliating against a boy who had been teasing her mercilessly. Frankie is determined to have a quiet, uneventful summer, but when a cat is killed and the owner fingers Frankie as the culprit, Frankie must work to clear her name. To do that she must catch the cat’s true murderer, so she begins to sleuth around the houseboat community to uncover the residents’ secrets. Though Frankie is an endearing, resourceful character, she is underdeveloped; while she remains appealing throughout, she never becomes truly sympathetic. The secondary characters are better fleshed-out, though some, such as a washed-up former TV star, come across as caricatures. The houseboat setting is vividly described, the plot moves quickly and readers will be entertained by Frankie’s antics as they try to guess the identity of the cat killer. The ending twist is creative, and readers will be amused as the perpetrator comes to light. Though the novel is riddled with unrealistic plot points, such as a 12-year-old being fitted with a house-arrest anklet by a judge, it’s a fast-paced, entertaining read. Despite its flaws, the book has a charming main character and a diverting plot sure to appeal to fans of whodunit novels.


Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1453815960

Page Count: 336

Publisher: a&r/ENT

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

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How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)


From the Six of Crows series , Vol. 2

This hefty sequel to Six of Crows (2015) brings high-tension conclusions to the many intertwined intrigues of Ketterdam.

It's time for revenge—has been ever since old-before-his-time crook Kaz and his friends were double-crossed by the merchant princes of Ketterdam, an early-industrial Amsterdam-like fantasy city filled to the brim with crime and corruption. Disabled, infuriated, and perpetually scheming Kaz, the light-skinned teen mastermind, coordinates the efforts to rescue Inej. Though Kaz is loath to admit weakness, Inej is his, for he can't bear any harm come to the knife-wielding, brown-skinned Suli acrobat. Their team is rounded out by Wylan, a light-skinned chemist and musician whose merchant father tried to have him murdered and who can't read due to a print disability; Wylan's brown-skinned biracial boyfriend, Jesper, a flirtatious gambler with ADHD; Nina, the pale brunette Grisha witch and recovering addict from Russia-like Ravka; Matthias, Nina's national enemy and great love, a big, white, blond drüskelle warrior from the cold northern lands; and Kuwei, the rescued Shu boy everyone wants to kidnap. Can these kids rescue everyone who needs rescuing in Ketterdam's vile political swamp? This is dark and violent—one notable scene features a parade of teens armed with revolvers, rifles, pistols, explosives, and flash bombs—but gut-wrenchingly genuine. Astonishingly, Bardugo keeps all these balls in the air over the 500-plus pages of narrative.

How can such a hefty tome be un-put-down-able excitement from beginning to end? (glossary) (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-213-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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


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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